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

In: Discoveries in the Economics of Aging

Author

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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, 2013. "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.
    3. Eileen Crimmins & Mark Hayward & Aaron Hagedorn & Yasuhiko Saito & Nicolas Brouard, 2009. "Change in disability-free life expectancy for Americans 70 years old and older," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 46(3), pages 627-646, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bloom, David E. & Luca, Dara Lee, 2016. "The Global Demography of Aging: Facts, Explanations, Future," IZA Discussion Papers 10163, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_567 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:jeeman:v:86:y:2017:i:c:p:93-120 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_237 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Fang, H., 2016. "Insurance Markets for the Elderly," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, Elsevier.

    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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