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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. Charles Jones & Pete Klenow, 2010. "Beyond GDP? Welfare Across Countries and Time," Discussion Papers 10-001, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  2. Makoto Nakajima & Irina A. Telyukova, 2011. "Home equity withdrawal in retirement," Working Papers 11-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  3. 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.
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  8. 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.
  9. Carter, Lawrence R. & Lee, Ronald D., 1992. "Modeling and forecasting US sex differentials in mortality," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 393-411, November.
  10. Motohiro Yogo, 2009. "Portfolio Choice in Retirement: Health Risk and the Demand for Annuities, Housing, and Risky Assets," NBER Working Papers 15307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. 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.
  12. Thomas J. Kniesner & W. Kip Viscusi & Christopher Woock & James P. Ziliak, 2010. "The Value of a Statistical Life: Evidence from Panel Data," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 122, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  13. 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.
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