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Evidence for Significant Compression of Morbidity in the Elderly U.S. Population

In: Discoveries in the Economics of Aging

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  • David M. Cutler
  • Kaushik Ghosh
  • Mary Beth Landrum

Abstract

The question of whether morbidity is being compressed into the period just before death has been at the center of health debates in the United States for some time. Compression of morbidity would lead to longer life but less rapid medical spending increases than if life extension were accompanied by expanding morbidity. Using nearly 20 years of data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, we examine how health is changing by time period until death. We show that functional measures of health are improving, and more so the farther away from death the person is surveyed. Disease rates are relatively constant at all times until death. On net, there is strong evidence for compression of morbidity based on measured disability, but less clear evidence based on disease-free survival.
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Suggested Citation

  • David M. Cutler & Kaushik Ghosh & Mary Beth Landrum, 2014. "Evidence for Significant Compression of Morbidity in the Elderly U.S. Population," NBER Chapters, in: Discoveries in the Economics of Aging, pages 21-51, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12966
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Vicki Freedman & Brenda Spillman & Patti Andreski & Jennifer Cornman & Eileen Crimmins & Ellen Kramarow & James Lubitz & Linda Martin & Sharon Merkin & Robert Schoeni & Teresa Seeman & Timothy Waidman, 2013. "Trends in Late-Life Activity Limitations in the United States: An Update From Five National Surveys," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(2), pages 661-671, April.
    2. Lamb, Vicki L., 1996. "A cross-national study of quality of life factors associated with patterns of elderly disablement," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 363-377, February.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. #HEJC papers for September 2013
      by academichealtheconomists in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2013-09-01 04:01:38

    Citations

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    Cited by:

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    2. David E. Bloom & Dara Lee Luca, 2016. "The Global Demography of Aging: Facts, Explanations, Future," PGDA Working Papers 13016, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
    3. Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 2023. "Inequality Beyond GDP: A Long View," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 69(3), pages 533-554, September.
    4. Bloom, D.E. & Luca, D.L., 2016. "The Global Demography of Aging," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 3-56, Elsevier.
    5. Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 2021. "Augmented human development in the age of globalization," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 74(4), pages 946-975, November.
    6. Heger, Dörte & Kolodziej, Ingo W.K., 2016. "Changes in morbidity over time: Evidence from Europe," Ruhr Economic Papers 640, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    7. Vasudeva N. R. Murthy & Natalya Ketenci, 2017. "Is technology still a major driver of health expenditure in the United States? Evidence from cointegration analysis with multiple structural breaks," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 29-50, March.
    8. Joo, Won-tak, 2023. "Educational gradient in social network changes at disease diagnosis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 317(C).
    9. Kaschützke, B. & Maurer, R., 2016. "Investing and Portfolio Allocation for Retirement," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 567-608, Elsevier.
    10. Lai, Wangyang, 2017. "Pesticide use and health outcomes: Evidence from agricultural water pollution in China," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 93-120.
    11. Fang, H., 2016. "Insurance Markets for the Elderly," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 237-309, Elsevier.
    12. Bavafa, Hessam & Mukherjee, Anita & Welch, Tyler Q., 2023. "Inequality in the golden years: Wealth gradients in disability-free and work-free longevity in the United States," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(C).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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