On mortality

Kitagawa, Evelyn M.; Kitagawa, E M
November 1977
Demography;Nov1977, Vol. 14 Issue 4, p381
Academic Journal
journal article
This article focuses on the issue of population mortality. Mortality is presumed to have little relevance to policy because health and longevity are near-universal human values, and governments are expected to spend all that they can to promote the health and longevity of their citizens. On the human motivation side, it is clear that although health and longevity may be near-universal values, individuals do not orient all of their behavior to these values, especially if at the expense of alternative satisfactions. One obvious example is the unwillingness of many smokers to give up cigarette smoking despite the overwhelming evidence on its association with mortality from cancer and heart disease. Mortality research in this area has raised important policy questions concerning the sale of cigarettes and has led to various restrictions on cigarette advertisements, on smoking in public places, etc. Policy relevance, of course, is not the only criterion for evaluating demographic research. An alternative criterion, and one that is more directly relevant to demography as a scientific discipline, is its contribution to an understanding of the causes and consequences of population trends.


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