The development of a ‘law of mortality’, a mathematical expression for the graduation of the age pattern of mortality, has been of interest since the development of the first life tables by John Graunt (1662) and Edmund Halley (1693). Although Abraham De Moivre proposed a very simple law as early as 1725 the best known early contribution is probably that of Benjamin Gompertz (1825). Since World War II mathematical formulae have been used to graduate sections of the English Life Tables, as well as assured lives mortality, and pensioner and annuitant mortality. Reviews of attempts at finding the ‘law of mortality’ have been given by Elston and Benjamin and Haycocks.
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