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Recessions and seniors’ health, health behaviors, and healthcare use: Analysis of the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey

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  • McInerney, Melissa
  • Mellor, Jennifer M.

Abstract

A number of studies report that U.S. state mortality rates, particularly for the elderly, decline during economic downturns. Further, several prior studies use microdata to show that as state unemployment rates rise, physical health improves, unhealthy behaviors decrease, and medical care use declines. We use data on elderly mortality rates and data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey from a time period that encompasses the start of the Great Recession. We find that elderly mortality is countercyclical during most of the 1994–2008 period. Further, as unemployment rates rise, seniors report worse mental health and are no more likely to engage in healthier behaviors. We find suggestive evidence that inpatient utilization increases perhaps because of an increased physician willingness to accept Medicare patients. Our findings suggest that either elderly individuals respond differently to recessions than do working age adults, or that the relationship between unemployment and health has changed.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 31 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 744-751

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:31:y:2012:i:5:p:744-751

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

Related research

Keywords: Health status; Healthcare utilization; Medicare; Macroeconomic conditions;

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References

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  1. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good For Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650, May.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Maclean, Johanna Catherine, 2013. "The health effects of leaving school in a bad economy," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 951-964.
  2. Layte, Richard & Nolan, Anne, 2013. "Socioeconomic Differentials in Male Mortality in Ireland: 1984-2008," Papers WP470, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  3. Timothy Halliday, 2013. "Unemployment and Mortality: Evidence from the PSID," Working Papers 2013-14, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
  4. Ifanti, Amalia A. & Argyriou, Andreas A. & Kalofonou, Foteini H. & Kalofonos, Haralabos P., 2013. "Financial crisis and austerity measures in Greece: Their impact on health promotion policies and public health care," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 113(1), pages 8-12.
  5. Erdal Tekin & Chandler McClellan & Karen Jean Minyard, 2013. "Health and Health Behaviors during the Worst of Times: Evidence from the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 19234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Owen O'Donnell & Eddy Van Doorslaer & Tom Van Ourti, 2013. "Health and Inequality," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-170/V, Tinbergen Institute.

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