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Does the impact of socioeconomic status on mortality decrease with increasing age?

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  • Rasmus Hoffmann

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

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    Abstract

    The impact of SES on mortality is an established fact. I examine if this impact decreases with increasing age. Most research finds that it does so but it is unknown whether this decrease is due to mortality selection. The data I use come from the US-Health and Retirement Study, which surveyed 9376 persons aged 59 and over from 1992 to 2000. The variables allow for a time varying measurement of SES, health and behavior. Event-history-analysis is applied to analyze differences in mortality rates. My results show that socioeconomic mortality differences are stable across ages whereas they clearly decline with decreasing health. My first finding, that health rather than age is the equalizer combined with the second finding, that good health itself is unequally distributed, leads to the conclusion that in old age, the impact of SES is transferred to the health status and hence it is stable across ages.

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    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2004-016.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2004-016.

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    Length: 21 pages
    Date of creation: May 2004
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2004-016

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    Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

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    Keywords: USA; mortality; old age; socio-economic differentials;

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    1. Smith, James P, 1998. "Socioeconomic Status and Health," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 192-96, May.
    2. Huisman, Martijn & Kunst, Anton E. & Mackenbach, Johan P., 2003. "Socioeconomic inequalities in morbidity among the elderly; a European overview," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 57(5), pages 861-873, September.
    3. Dale Dannefer, 2003. "Cumulative Advantage/Disadvantage and the Life Course: Cross-Fertilizing Age and Social Science Theory," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 58(6), pages S327-S337.
    4. Grundy, Emily & Sloggett, Andy, 2003. "Health inequalities in the older population: the role of personal capital, social resources and socio-economic circumstances," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 935-947, March.
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