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Heterogeneity in Expected Longevities

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Abstract

We develop a new methodology to compute differences in the expected longevity of individuals who are in different socioeconomic groups at age 50. We deal with the two main problems associated with the standard use of life expectancy: that people's socioeconomic characteristics evolve over time and that there is a time trend that reduces mortality over time. Using HRS data for individuals from different cohorts, we estimate a hazard model for survival with time-varying stochastic endogenous covariates that yields the desired expected durations. We uncover an enormous amount of heterogeneity in expected longevities between individuals in different socioeconomic groups, albeit less than implied by a naive (static) use of socioeconomic characteristics. Our analysis allows us to decompose the longevity differentials into differences in health at age 50, differences in mortality conditional on health, and differences in the evolution of health with age. Remarkably, it is the latter that is the most important for most socioeconomic characteristics. For instance, education and wealth are health protecting but have little impact on two-year mortality rates conditional on health. Finally, we document an increasing time trend of all these differentials in the period 1992-2008, and a likely increase in the socioeconomic gradient in mortality rates in the near future. The mortality differences that we find have huge welfare implications that dwarf the differences in consumption accruing to people in different socioeconomic groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Josep Pijoan-Mas & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2012. "Heterogeneity in Expected Longevities," Working Papers wp2012_1210, CEMFI.
  • Handle: RePEc:cmf:wpaper:wp2012_1210
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    Cited by:

    1. Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2016. "The gender gap in mortality: How much is explained by behavior?," ECON WPS - Vienna University of Technology Working Papers in Economic Theory and Policy 05/2016, Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Mathematical Methods in Economics, Research Group Economics (ECON).
    2. James M. Poterba, 2014. "Retirement Security in an Aging Society," NBER Working Papers 19930, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2017. "The Genesis of the Golden Age: Accounting for the Rise in Health and Leisure," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 24, pages 132-151, March.
    4. repec:spr:series:v:8:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s13209-017-0162-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Ana Hidalgo-Cabrillana & Zoë Kuehn & Cristina Lopez-Mayan, 2017. "Development accounting using PIAAC data," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, pages 373-399.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality in health; Heterogeneity in mortality rates; Life expectancies.;

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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