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Broken Down by Work and Sex: How Our Health Declines

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  • Anne C. Case
  • Angus Deaton

Abstract

Self-reported health status (SRHS) is an imperfect measure of non-fatal health, but allows examination of how health status varies over the life course. Although women have lower mortality than men, they report worse health status up to age 65. The SRHS of both men and women deteriorates with age. There are strong gradients, so that at age 20, men in the bottom quartile already report worse health than do men in the top quartile at age 50. In the bottom quartile of income, SRHS declines more rapidly with age, but only until retirement age. These facts motivate a study of the role of work, particularly manual work, in health decline with age. The Grossman capital-stock model of health assumes a technology in which money and time can effect complete health repair. As a result, declines in health status are driven, not by the rate of deterioration of the health stock, but by the rate of increase of the rate of deterioration. We argue that such a technology is implausible, and we show that people in manual occupations have worse SRHS and more rapidly declining SRHS, even with a comprehensive set of controls for income and education. We also find that much of the differences in SRHS across the income distribution is driven by health-related absence from the labor-force, which is a mechanism running from health to income, not the reverse.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9821.

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Date of creation: Jul 2003
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Publication status: published as Broken Down by Work and Sex: How Our Health Declines , Anne Case, Angus S. Deaton. in Analyses in the Economics of Aging , Wise. 2005
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9821

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  1. Waldron, Ingrid, 1983. "Sex differences in illness incidence, prognosis and mortality: Issues and evidence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 17(16), pages 1107-1123, January.
  2. Muurinen, Jaana-Marja, 1982. "Demand for health: A generalised Grossman model," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 5-28, May.
  3. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Time Preference and Health: An Exploratory Study," NBER Working Papers 0539, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Wagstaff, Adam, 1986. "The demand for health : Some new empirical evidence," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 195-233, September.
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  6. Grossman, Michael, 2000. "The human capital model," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 347-408 Elsevier.
  7. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  8. Adams, Peter & Hurd, Michael D. & McFadden, Daniel & Merrill, Angela & Ribeiro, Tiago, 2003. "Healthy, wealthy, and wise? Tests for direct causal paths between health and socioeconomic status," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 3-56, January.
  9. Muurinen, Jaana-Marja & Le Grand, Julian, 1985. "The economic analysis of inequalities in health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 20(10), pages 1029-1035, January.
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