Event Title

The Dynamics of Health Among the Elderly - The Role of Socioeconomic Status

Presenter Information

Fabian Lange
Douglas McKee

Start Date

16-10-2009 2:30 PM

End Date

16-10-2009 4:00 PM

Description

Researchers consistently find that lower socioeconomic status is associated with ill health and mortality among the elderly. A number of factors contribute to this gradient in health. First, the disadvantaged are more likely to enter old age in worse health. They are also more likely to be obese, to smoke, and to drink and consequently their health on average deteriorates more rapidly with age and they suffer a higher incidence of serious health events including heart-attacks and strokes. All these factors combined with potentially differential medical care contribute to the emergence of a gap in health among the elderly, but little is known about exactly how much each of these dynamic factors contributes to the overall relative decline in health among the economically disadvantaged.

This paper develops and estimates a dynamic model of health using data from the United States Health and Retirement Study (HRS). The HRS is a nationally representative panel of individuals aged 50+ collected biannually over the 1992-2006 period. This data set contains rich data on the health of the elderly population, including self-rated and objective health measures as well as information on the onset of various diseases.

A major challenge of this research is to summarize a large set of disparate health measures and their evolution over time in a parsimonious, yet comprehensive manner. We use a latent factor model to summarize the various health measures provided by the HRS with a single scalar. SES differences in how this scalar is distributed at age 50 reflect the socioeconomic gap in health among those entering old age. We examine how this health-scalar evolves as individuals age and how this evolution differs by SES. Our model distinguishes gradual declines in the health from major adverse health events, such as stroke, heart attacks or the emergence of cancer.

Fabian Lange completed his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago in 2004 and subsequently joined the Department of Economics at Yale University, where he has been since. In 2007/2008, he visited the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His research interests are in the determinants of life-cycle earnings and in particular in the role of employer learning in generating earnings inequality as individuals age. He received the H. G. Lewis prize 2008 and the IZA Young Labor Economist Award for his work in this area. Fabian also pursues interests in population and health economics. In population economics, he studied the link between schooling and fertility decisions. In health economics, he develops and estimates models of health dynamics as individuals age and uses these to study the socio-economic gradient in health. He also uses these models of aging to study the interaction between health and labor supply decisions among elderly workers.

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Oct 16th, 2:30 PM Oct 16th, 4:00 PM

The Dynamics of Health Among the Elderly - The Role of Socioeconomic Status

Researchers consistently find that lower socioeconomic status is associated with ill health and mortality among the elderly. A number of factors contribute to this gradient in health. First, the disadvantaged are more likely to enter old age in worse health. They are also more likely to be obese, to smoke, and to drink and consequently their health on average deteriorates more rapidly with age and they suffer a higher incidence of serious health events including heart-attacks and strokes. All these factors combined with potentially differential medical care contribute to the emergence of a gap in health among the elderly, but little is known about exactly how much each of these dynamic factors contributes to the overall relative decline in health among the economically disadvantaged.

This paper develops and estimates a dynamic model of health using data from the United States Health and Retirement Study (HRS). The HRS is a nationally representative panel of individuals aged 50+ collected biannually over the 1992-2006 period. This data set contains rich data on the health of the elderly population, including self-rated and objective health measures as well as information on the onset of various diseases.

A major challenge of this research is to summarize a large set of disparate health measures and their evolution over time in a parsimonious, yet comprehensive manner. We use a latent factor model to summarize the various health measures provided by the HRS with a single scalar. SES differences in how this scalar is distributed at age 50 reflect the socioeconomic gap in health among those entering old age. We examine how this health-scalar evolves as individuals age and how this evolution differs by SES. Our model distinguishes gradual declines in the health from major adverse health events, such as stroke, heart attacks or the emergence of cancer.

Fabian Lange completed his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago in 2004 and subsequently joined the Department of Economics at Yale University, where he has been since. In 2007/2008, he visited the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His research interests are in the determinants of life-cycle earnings and in particular in the role of employer learning in generating earnings inequality as individuals age. He received the H. G. Lewis prize 2008 and the IZA Young Labor Economist Award for his work in this area. Fabian also pursues interests in population and health economics. In population economics, he studied the link between schooling and fertility decisions. In health economics, he develops and estimates models of health dynamics as individuals age and uses these to study the socio-economic gradient in health. He also uses these models of aging to study the interaction between health and labor supply decisions among elderly workers.