The most significant trend now affecting longevity in industrialized societies is the decline of death rates among the elderly. Until the late 1960s, death rates at older ages had declined slowly, if at all. Traditionally, rates of mortality decline were much higher at younger than at older ages. Since about 1970, however, there has been an "aging of mortality decline," meaning that some of the most rapid declines in death rates are now occurring at older ages (23,24). Thus, the decade of the
1960s marks a turning point, from an earlier era of longevity increase due primarily to the decline of acute infectious disease among juveniles to a more recent era involving the decline of chronic degenerative disease among the elderly.
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