Health and Longevity

The death of an individual is the ultimate depletion of his/her human capital. Moreover, it is the basis of individuals’ longevity and populations’ life expectancy which are the basis for individuals’ and populations’ longevity and the amount of healthy and productive life years. Therefore the research group on Health and Longevity (HELO) plays a central role as the forces driving international trends in mortality are comprehensively studied, with a special emphasis on differentials by gender and level of education.

Our main objective  is to disentangle the complex causation of healthy ageing. We want to better understand the factors and causal mechanisms that enable some (groups of) people to live longer and healthier than others. Existing knowledge about the central drivers of healthy ageing is still incomplete. This partial knowledge is like a huge jigsaw puzzle of which many—albeit not all—pieces are at hand, but without knowing for most of them the right position in the big overall picture. Our research is organized toward the aim to add key pieces to this puzzle, which will contribute to a better understanding of the determinants of healthy ageing. The work of HELO can be characterized by four specific features which distinguish our studies inside the community of health and mortality researchers:

1. Concentration on differentials in health and longevity with a particular focus on quasi-experimental settings.
2. Introduction of new hypotheses to explain the extent and trends of differentials in health and longevity
3. Estimation of levels and differentials in health and longevity in terms of life years.
4. Application-oriented development of innovative methods to estimate life expectancy (LE) and health expectancy (HE) for specific subpopulations.

Key Questions

Will life expectancy continue to increase in the future?
Will the gained life years be spent primarily in good or in poor health?
What are the determinants of mortality and healthy ageing?
What is causing differentials in health and longevity?
Are these differentials caused independently or is their causation connected?

Detailed information about the ongoing research of this group can be found at

The Wittgenstein Centre aspires to be a world leader in the advancement of demographic methods and their application to the analysis of human capital and population dynamics. It is a collaboration among the World Population Program of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the Vienna Institute of Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (VID/ÖAW) and the Demography Group and the Research Institute on Human Capital and Development of the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU).

Wittgenstein Centre Partner: WU Wittgenstein Centre Partner: OEAW Wittgenstein Centre Partner: IIASA