The role of smoking in changes in the survival curve: an empirical study in 10 European countries

F. Janssen, V. Rousson, F. Paccaud

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review



We examined the role of smoking in the two dimensions behind the time trends in adult mortality in European countries, that is, rectangularization of the survival curve (mortality compression) and longevity extension (increase in the age-at-death).

Using data on national sex-specific populations aged 50 years and older from Denmark, Finland, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, we studied trends in life expectancy, rectangularity, and longevity from 1950 to 2009 for both all-cause and nonsmoking-related mortality and correlated them with trends in lifetime smoking prevalence.

For all-cause mortality, rectangularization accelerated around 1980 among men in all the countries studied, and more recently among women in Denmark and the United Kingdom. Trends in lifetime smoking prevalence correlated negatively with both rectangularization and longevity extension, but more negatively with rectangularization. For nonsmoking-related mortality, rectangularization among men did not accelerate around 1980. Among women, the differences between all-cause mortality and nonsmoking-related mortality were small, but larger for rectangularization than for longevity extension. Rectangularization contributed less to the increase in life expectancy than longevity extension, especially for nonsmoking-related mortality among men.

Smoking affects rectangularization more than longevity extension, both among men and women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-249
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • JCR
  • mortality
  • life expectancy
  • compression
  • smoking-related mortality
  • sex differences


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