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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.

Suggested Citation

  • McInerney, Melissa & Mellor, Jennifer M., 2012. "Recessions and seniors’ health, health behaviors, and healthcare use: Analysis of the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 744-751.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:31:y:2012:i:5:p:744-751 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2012.06.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Richard Layte & Anne Nolan, 2016. "Socio-economic Differentials in Male Mortality in Ireland 1984-2008," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 47(3), pages 361-390.
    3. Ezra Golberstein & Gilbert Gonzales & Ellen Meara, 2016. "Economic Conditions and Children's Mental Health," NBER Working Papers 22459, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2015. "Recessions, healthy no more?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 17-28.
    5. Perelman, Julian & Felix, Sónia & Santana, Rui, 2015. "The Great Recession in Portugal: Impact on hospital care use," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(3), pages 307-315.
    6. Halliday, Timothy J., 2014. "Unemployment and mortality: Evidence from the PSID," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 15-22.
    7. Henrik Brønnum-Hansen & Mikkel Baadsgaard & Mette Eriksen & Karen Andersen-Ranberg & Bernard Jeune, 2015. "Educational inequalities in health expectancy during the financial crisis in Denmark," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 60(8), pages 927-935, December.
    8. Ásgeirsdóttir, Tinna Laufey & Corman, Hope & Noonan, Kelly & Reichman, Nancy E., 2016. "Lifecycle effects of a recession on health behaviors: Boom, bust, and recovery in Iceland," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 90-107.
    9. Johanna Catherine Maclean & Douglas A. Webber & Michael T. French & Susan L. Ettner, 2015. "The Health Consequences of Adverse Labor Market Events: Evidence from Panel Data," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 478-498, July.
    10. Owen O'Donnell & Eddy Van Doorslaer & Tom Van Ourti, 2013. "Health and Inequality," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-170/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    11. 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.
    12. Argys, Laura & Friedson, Andrew & Pitts, M. Melinda, 2016. "Killer Debt: The Impact of Debt on Mortality," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2016-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    13. Tekin, Erdal & McClellan, Chandler & Minyard, Karen Jean, 2013. "Health and Health Behaviors during the Worst of Times: Evidence from the Great Recession," IZA Discussion Papers 7538, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Nayan Krishna Joshi, 2016. "Local house prices and mental health," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 89-102, March.
    15. He, Daifeng & McInerney, Melissa & Mellor, Jennifer, 2015. "Physician responses to rising local unemployment rates: Healthcare provision to Medicare and privately insured patients," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 97-108.
    16. repec:eee:jhecon:v:53:y:2017:i:c:p:17-37 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Johanna Catherine Maclean & Jonathan H. Cantor & Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, 2015. "Economic downturns and substance abuse treatment: Evidence from admissions data," DETU Working Papers 1504, Department of Economics, Temple University.
    18. Erdal Tekin & Chandler McClellan & Karen Jean Minyard, 2013. "Health and Health Behaviors during the Worst of Times," NBER Working Papers 19234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. repec:kap:atlecj:v:45:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11293-017-9540-z is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health status; Healthcare utilization; Medicare; Macroeconomic conditions;

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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