Do Vanguard Populations Pave the Way towards Higher Life Expectancy for Other Population Groups ?
Do vanguard populations open new frontiers of survival and longevity that will eventually be reached by others? The main aim of this study is to identify the extent to which the non-vanguard populations in Finland, Norway, and Sweden might follow the mortality trajectories of the vanguard groups in these countries for different age ranges and for the major causes of death. The results show no systematic convergence between vanguard and non-vanguard sub-populations. On the contrary, they confirm the theory whereby each major epidemiological development initially gives rise to divergence in mortality trends. Our study found that at the sub-national level, rather than simply following (with a certain time lag) the same path as the vanguard groups, non-vanguard groups have their own pathways to low mortality which are related to specific determinants of mortality change. The study also found that a long time is needed for the non-vanguard group to attain the mortality levels already reached by the vanguard group at the start of the observation period. This is notably the case for the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.