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Longevity Expectations and Death: Can People Predict Their Own Demise?

  • Smith, V. Kerry
  • Taylor, Donald H., Jr.
  • Sloan, Frank A.

Using four waves of the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) this paper tests whether longevity expectations predict actual mortality at the individual level. The results suggest longevity expectations do predict mortality reasonably well. Serious health shocks and new activity limitations do reduce longevity expectations. Given one is prepared to accept that other unobserved causal factors have the same means for those who die and those who survive in each wave it is possible to test whether longevity expectations can serve as a sufficient statistic. The test findings imply that they do not appear to reflect all that individuals know about their personal odds of living to seventy-five.

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Paper provided by Duke University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 00-15.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:duk:dukeec:00-15
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  1. Michael D. Hurd & Daniel McFadden & Angela Merrill, 2001. "Predictors of Mortality among the Elderly," NBER Chapters, in: Themes in the Economics of Aging, pages 171-198 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Michael D. Hurd & Kathleen McGarry, 1997. "The Predictive Validity of Subjective Probabilities of Survival," NBER Working Papers 6193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  4. Smith, V. Kerry & Taylor, Donald H., Jr. & Sloan, Frank A. & Johnson, F. Reed & Desvousges, William H., 2000. "Do Smokers Respond to Health Shocks?," Working Papers 00-08, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  5. Viscusi, W Kip & O'Connor, Charles J, 1984. "Adaptive Responses to Chemical Labeling: Are Workers Bayesian Decision Makers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 942-56, December.
  6. Van de Ven, Wynand P. M. M. & Van Praag, Bernard M. S., 1981. "The demand for deductibles in private health insurance : A probit model with sample selection," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 229-252, November.
  7. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1985. "Expectations, Life Expectancy, and Economic Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 389-408, May.
  8. White, Halbert, 1982. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Misspecified Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 1-25, January.
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