Mortality Changes in the Iberian Peninsula in the Last Decades of the Twentieth Century

In the early 1960s, the gap between Spain and Portugal in terms of life expectancy at birth was very large (6.5 years in favour of Spanish women and 7.2 years in favour of Spanish men). Excess mortality in Portugal was due mainly to high death rates among babies, children and adolescents. Today, the gap is much narrower, although Portuguese life expectancy (81.3 years for females and 74.9 years for males in 2005) is still around two years lower than in Spain, which ranks among European leaders. In this article, Vladimir CANUDAS -ROMO and his colleagues analyse this change by examining the impact of mortality by age and by major cause of death on the life expectancy differential between the two countries over the last fifty years. They pinpoint the areas upon which health policies should focus in order to close the gap between Portugal and its neighbour.