Differences in health between Americans and Western Europeans: Effects on longevity and public finance
In 1975, 50 year-old Americans could expect to live slightly longer than most of their Western European counterparts. By 2005, American life expectancy had fallen behind that of most Western European countries. We find that this growing longevity gap is primarily due to real declines in the health of near-elderly Americans, relative to their Western European peers. We use a microsimulation approach to project what US longevity would look like, if US health trends approximated those in Western Europe. The model implies that differences in health can explain most of the growing gap in remaining life expectancy. In addition, we quantify the public finance consequences of this deterioration in health. The model predicts that gradually moving American cohorts to the health status enjoyed by Western Europeans could save up to $1.1 trillion in discounted total health expenditures from 2004 to 2050.
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Volume (Year): 73 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (July)
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