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World Bank Expert Discusses How Higher Global Mortality Could Represent Sign Of Progress

Brookings Institution’s “Future Development”: Can higher mortality be a sign of progress?
Wolfgang Fengler, lead economist for trade and competitiveness at the World Bank, discusses the global shift in mortality, writing, “Never has life expectancy been so high, which means more and older people. The increase in life expectancy is mostly because of a sharp decline in child mortality, but also thanks to improvements in longevity. That means more people alive at any point in time: Even though the number of children has stabilized at around two billion, the world’s population is still growing rapidly thanks to a swelling number of adults and elderly. This is also why the number of people dying each year is still rising, albeit slowly. … Paradoxically, this is a sign of progress: Higher mortality is just a reflection of the fact that we have a larger population. And we have a larger population because the actual probability of dying across all age groups has declined” (1/15).

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