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J Biosoc Sci. 2014 Jul;46(4):462-79. doi: 10.1017/S002193201300062X. Epub 2013 Nov 8.

Changing age patterns of morbidity vis-à-vis mortality in India.

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Department of Development Studies,International Institute for Population Sciences,Mumbai,India.


The combined effects of decreased fertility and mortality coupled with increasing survivorship across most ages have been upsetting the levels and age patterns of morbidity and mortality in India. This study examined data from the National Sample Survey (NSS) and Sample Registration System (SRS) of India. The results reveal marked structural changes in the age patterns of morbidity and mortality. The analysis also tested whether morbidity contours are being compressed or expanded, connecting it with the ongoing processes of demographic and epidemiological transition. The Sullivan (1971) method was used to estimate the health ratio over three time periods to ascertain the expansion of morbidity. The results reveal an exceptional rise in the prevalence rate of chronic non-communicable diseases in ages 60 and above. The proportion of unhealthy years of the total life expectancy has increased more than before for all older age groups. Overall, the results confirm that an expansion of morbidity is in progress, with a heavier and cumulated concentration of morbidity in older ages. The expansion of morbidity hypothesis is validated for major categories of population: rural, urban, male and female. Older females bear a much heavier burden of chronic non-communicable diseases and are vulnerable to a higher proportion of unhealthy years. The age-structural shifts in morbidity and mortality signal the steady progress of epidemiological transition in India.

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