Understanding mortality: Biosocial determinants across cohorts, time and place


Principal Investigator: Jennifer Dowd


The overall goal of the project is to understand how long we are living, and why. Recently life expectancy in the US has declined for three consecutive years, the longest decline since between 1915 and 1918, a time both world war and pandemic influenza raged across the globe. Mortality stalls are happening in some but not all European countries as well. What's not clear is WHY, in this day and age of high economic development and technological and medical advances, are we seeing stalls and even reversals in life expectancy?

In the U.S. the dominant narrative has been about "Deaths of Despair" due to alcohol, drug overdoses, and suicide, but whether these factors can explain stalls in life expectancy in Europe is not clear. The project will leverage Professor Dowd's interdisciplinary training in demography, economics, epidemiology, and biology to create the first comprehensive picture of both the social and biological determinants of population mortality and its trends over time.