Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The Gini coefficient of the life table is a concentration index that provides information on lifespan variation. Originally proposed by economists to measure income and wealth inequalities, it has been widely used in population studies to investigate variation in ages at death. We focus on the complement of the Gini coefficient, Drewnowski's index, which is a measure of equality. We study its mathematical properties and analyze how changes over time relate to changes in life expectancy. Further, we identify the threshold age below which mortality improvements are translated into decreasing lifespan variation and above which these improvements translate into increasing lifespan inequality. We illustrate our theoretical findings simulating scenarios of mortality improvement in the Gompertz model, and showing an example of application to Swedish life table data. Our experiments demonstrate how Drewnowski's index can serve as an indicator of the shape of mortality patterns. These properties, along with our analytical findings, support studying lifespan variation alongside life expectancy trends in multiple species.

Original publication




Journal article


Theoretical population biology

Publication Date



Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, Department of Sociology and Nuffield College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 1JD, UK; Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics, University of Southern Denmark, 5230 Odense, Denmark.