Post-1950 mortality trends and medical care: gains in life expectancy due to declines in mortality from conditions amenable to medical intervention in The Netherlands

Soc Sci Med. 1988;27(9):889-94. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(88)90278-x.


In order to assess the impact of medical care innovations on post-1950 mortality in The Netherlands, we analysed trends in mortality from a selection of conditions suggested by Rutstein et al.'s lists of "unnecessary untimely mortality". This selection covers 11 types of innovation, and includes 35 conditions which have become amenable to medical care. Loglinear regression analysis shows that for most of these conditions mortality declined during each of two subperiods (1950-1968; 1969-1984). Mortality decline accelerated in the second subperiod for many conditions. Reductions in mortality from these conditions between 1950/54 and 1980/84 added 2.96 and 3.95 years to life expectancy at birth of Dutch males and Dutch females respectively. A priori evidence indicates that these mortality reductions are due to some extent to 'spontaneous' incidence declines. Although the exact contribution of medical care innovations to these changes in mortality thus cannot be determined, the impact of medical care on post-1950 mortality in The Netherlands could well have been substantial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death*
  • Female
  • Health Resources / trends*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality / trends
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Life Expectancy / trends*
  • Male
  • Maternal Mortality / trends
  • Mortality*
  • Netherlands
  • Pregnancy
  • Primary Health Care / trends*