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Dimensons of Health in the Elderly Population

In: Investigations in the Economics of Aging

Author

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  • David M. Cutler
  • Mary Beth Landrum

Abstract

In this paper, we characterize the multi-faceted health of the elderly and understand how health along multiple dimensions has changed over time. Our data are from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, 1991-2007. We show that 19 measures of health can be combined into three broad categories: a first dimension representing severe physical and social incapacity such as difficulty dressing or bathing; a second dimension representing less severe difficulty such as walking long distances or lifting heavy objects; and a third dimension representing vision and hearing impairment. These dimensions have changed at different rates over time. The first and third have declined rapidly over time, while the second has not. The improvement in health is not due to differential mortality of the sick or a new generation of more healthy people entering old age. Rather, the aging process itself is associated with less rapid deterioration in health. We speculate about the factors that may lead to this.
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Suggested Citation

  • David M. Cutler & Mary Beth Landrum, 2011. "Dimensons of Health in the Elderly Population," NBER Chapters,in: Investigations in the Economics of Aging, pages 179-200 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12437
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    Cited by:

    1. Aisa, Rosa & Larramona, Gemma & Pueyo, Fernando, 2015. "Active aging, preventive health and dependency: Heterogeneous workers, differential behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 1-9.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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