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Heterogeneity in expected longevities

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  • Josep Pijoan-Mas
  • Jose-Victor Rios-Rull

Abstract

We develop a new methodology to compute differences in the expected longevity of individuals who are in different socioeconomic groups at age 50. We deal with two main problems associated with the standard use of life expectancy: that people’s socioeconomic characteristics evolve over time and that there is a time trend that reduces mortality over time. Using HRS data for individuals from different cohorts, we estimate a hazard model for survival with time-varying stochastic endogenous covariates that yields the desired expected durations. We uncover an enormous amount of heterogeneity in expected longevities between individuals in different socioeconomic groups, albeit less than implied by a naive (static) use of socioeconomic characteristics. Our analysis allows us to decompose the longevity differentials into differences in health at age 50, differences in mortality conditional on health, and differences in the evolution of health with age. Remarkably, it is the latter that is the most important for most socioeconomic characteristics. For instance, education and wealth are health protecting but have little impact on two-year mortality rates conditional on health. Finally, we document an increasing time trend of all these differentials in the period 1992–2008, and a likely increase in the socioeconomic gradient in mortality rates in the near future. The mortality differences that we find have huge welfare implications that dwarf the differences in consumption accruing to people in different socioeconomic groups.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 471.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:471

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Keywords: Life expectancy;

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  1. Thomas J. Kniesner & W. Kip Viscusi & Christopher Woock & James P. Ziliak, 2012. "The Value of a Statistical Life: Evidence from Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 74-87, February.
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  5. Motohiro Yogo, 2008. "Portfolio Choice in Retirement: Health Risk and the Demand for Annuities, Housing, and Risky Assets," 2008 Meeting Papers 63, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  7. Javier Díaz-Giménez & Andrew Glover & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2011. "Facts on the distributions of earnings, income, and wealth in the United States: 2007 update," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  9. Gary S. Becker & Tomas J. Philipson & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2003. "The Quantity and Quality of Life and the Evolution of World Inequality," NBER Working Papers 9765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Heckman, James J., 2011. "Integrating Personality Psychology into Economics," IZA Discussion Papers 5950, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Robert E Hall & Charles I Jones, 2007. "The Value of Life and the Rise in Health Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 39-72, 02.
  12. Karen A. Kopecky & Tatyana Koreshkova, 2010. "The impact of medical and nursing home expenses and social insurance," Working Paper 2010-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  13. Luisa Fuster & Ayse Imrohoroglu & Selahattin Imrohoroglu, 2003. "A welfare analysis of social security in a dynastic framework," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1247-1274, November.
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