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Mortality Inequality: The Good News from a County-Level Approach

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  • Currie, Janet

    () (Princeton University)

  • Schwandt, Hannes

    () (Northwestern University)

Abstract

Analysts who have concluded that inequality in life expectancy is increasing have generally focused on life expectancy at age 40 to 50. However, we show that among infants, children, and young adults, mortality has been falling more quickly in poorer areas with the result that inequality in mortality has fallen substantially over time. This is an important result given the growing literature showing that good health in childhood predicts better health in adulthood and suggests that today's children are likely to face considerably less inequality in mortality as they age than current adults. We also show that there have been stunning declines in mortality rates for African-Americans between 1990 and 2010, especially for black men. The fact that inequality in mortality has been moving in opposite directions for the young and the old, as well as for some segments of the African-American and non-African-American populations argues against a single driver of trends in mortality inequality, such as rising income inequality. Rather, there are likely to be multiple specific causes affecting different segments of the population. We show that the differential timing of smoking reductions among the rich and the poor can explain a significant fraction of the current increase in mortality inequality in older cohorts.

Suggested Citation

  • Currie, Janet & Schwandt, Hannes, 2016. "Mortality Inequality: The Good News from a County-Level Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 9903, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9903
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Sam Watson’s journal round-up for 18th July 2016
      by Sam Watson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2016-07-18 16:00:27

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    Cited by:

    1. Chorniy, Anna & Currie, Janet & Sonchak, Lyudmyla, 2018. "Exploding asthma and ADHD caseloads: The role of medicaid managed care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 1-15.
    2. Olivia S. Mitchell, 2018. "Enhancing risk management for an aging world," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance Theory, Springer;International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics (The Geneva Association), vol. 43(2), pages 115-136, September.
    3. Dow, Wiiliam H & Godoey, Anna & Lowenstein, Christopher A & Reich, Michael, 2019. "Can Economic Policies Reduce Deaths of Despair? Working Paper #104-19," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt14f015df, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
    4. Gabriella Conti & Giacomo Mason & Stavros Poupakis, 2019. "Developmental Origins of Health Inequality," Working Papers 2019-041, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    5. Chloe N. East & Sarah Miller & Marianne Page & Laura R. Wherry, 2017. "Multi-generational Impacts of Childhood Access to the Safety Net: Early Life Exposure to Medicaid and the Next Generation’s Health," NBER Working Papers 23810, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Nicolas Berman & Lorenzo Rotunno & Roberta Ziparo, 2020. "Sweet child of mine: Parental income, child health and inequality," AMSE Working Papers 2005, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France.
    7. Michele Fioretti & Hongming Wang, 2019. "Subsidizing Inequality: Performance Pay and Risk Selection in Medicare," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2019-15, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    8. Dobis, Elizabeth A. & Stephens, Heather M. & Skidmore, Mark & Goetz, Stephan J., 2020. "Explaining the spatial variation in American life expectancy," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 246(C).
    9. Alan J. Auerbach & Kerwin K. Charles & Courtney C. Coile & William Gale & Dana Goldman & Ronald Lee & Charles M. Lucas & Peter R. Orszag & Louise M. Sheiner & Bryan Tysinger & David N. Weil & Justin W, 2017. "How the Growing Gap in Life Expectancy May Affect Retirement Benefits and Reforms," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 42(3), pages 475-499, July.
    10. Schlee, Edward E. & Smith, V. Kerry, 2019. "The welfare cost of uncertainty in policy outcomes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 98(C).
    11. Amy Finkelstein & Matthew Gentzkow & Heidi L. Williams, 2019. "Place-Based Drivers of Mortality: Evidence from Migration," NBER Working Papers 25975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Alexander, Diane & Currie, Janet, 2017. "Is it who you are or where you live? Residential segregation and racial gaps in childhood asthma," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 186-200.
    13. Marcella Alsan & Marianne Wanamaker, 2018. "Tuskegee and the Health of Black Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(1), pages 407-455.
    14. Hilary W. Hoynes & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2018. "Safety Nets Investments in Children," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 49(1 (Spring), pages 89-150.
    15. Libertad González Luna & Ana Rodríguez-González, 2018. "Changes in inequality in mortality: New evidence for Spain," Economics Working Papers 1616, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    16. William H. Dow & Anna Godøy & Christopher A. Lowenstein & Michael Reich, 2019. "Can Economic Policies Reduce Deaths of Despair?," NBER Working Papers 25787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Haan, Peter & Kemptner, Daniel & Lüthen, Holger, 2017. "The Rising Longevity Gap by Lifetime Earnings: Distributional Implications for the Pension System," IZA Discussion Papers 11121, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Berman, Nicolas & Rotunno, Lorenzo & Ziparo, Roberta, 2020. "Sweet child of mine: Income, health and inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 14444, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    19. William J. Collins & Michael Q. Moody, 2017. "Racial Differences in American Women's Labor Market Outcomes: A Long-Run View," NBER Working Papers 23397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Vinish Shrestha, 2019. "Maternal Education and Infant Health Gradient: New Answers to Old Questions," Working Papers 2019-03, Towson University, Department of Economics, revised May 2020.
    21. repec:bin:bpeajo:v:49:y:2019:i:2018-01:p:89-150 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Monica Alexander & Emilio Zagheni & Magali Barbieri, 2017. "A Flexible Bayesian Model for Estimating Subnational Mortality," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(6), pages 2025-2041, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    mortality; inequality; racial differences; smoking;

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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