OBJECTIVE: To compare the mortality for women in Sweden, Norway and Denmark in order to search for clues for the low life expectancy of Danish women. METHODS: Prospective age-period-cohort study covering 40 years for all Swedish, Norwegian and Danish women aged 40-84 during the period 1960-2000, and born 1900-1950. OUTCOME MEASURES: Relative risks and 95% confidence intervals for deaths. RESULTS: The high risk of dying among Danish women was associated with being born between the two World Wars, and that a similar pattern was not found for women in Norway and Sweden. A tendency of a cohort effect was observed for Swedish women born around 1940. CONCLUSIONS: The currently low life expectancy of Danish women compared with that of women in Norway and Sweden is partly a transitional phenomenon caused by excessive death rates for women born between the two World Wars. Data on smoking prevalence by birth cohort and age indicate that a high percentage of Danish women in these cohorts were smokers throughout their adult life.
Keywords: Adult; Age Distribution; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Alcohol Drinking; Cause of Death; Cohort Studies; Denmark; Female; Humans; Life Expectancy; Life Style; Middle Aged; Mortality; Norway; Prevalence; Prospective Studies; Registries; Risk Assessment; Smoking; Sweden