Institute for Social and Economic Change

Working Paper: 282

Pattern of Mortality Changes in Kerala:
Are they Moving to the Advanced Stage?


M Benson Thomas
K S James



During the last century, Kerala has experienced a drastic decline in mortality level and high advancement in life expectancy even with less per capita income and low nutritional status. This achievement in health indicators was even comparable with developed countries. However, most of the developed countries achieved an advanced stage of mortality reduction among adults and early old ages to the advanced ages in the recent decades namely ‘delayed degenerative stage of epidemiological transition’. This paper examines the possibility of this advanced stage of mortality reduction in Kerala by using the methodology given by Olshansky and Ault (1986) mainly from census and SRS data in a historical perspective. It was found that overall mortality drastically declined in the state in the recent decades. Younger ages have contributed the maximum for this reduction. Therefore, further mortality reduction is possible in adult and early old ages. However, the contribution of these ages to life expectancy was lower than that of youngsters until 1991-2000. It became highest in the recent decade, which indicates the beginning of the decline in the advanced stage of mortality in the state. These changes are lower in males than females because of the lower reduction in adult mortality. The paper concludes that the though healthcare policies in Kerala are sufficient to address the health issues of infants, children and mothers in the reproductive ages, the state also should make necessary policy initiatives to address the health problems of adults especially the males.

Working Papers