Looking for Private Information in Self-Assessed Health
The paper investigates whether self-assessed health status (SAH) contains information about future mortality and morbidity, beyond the information that is contained in standard “observable” characteristics of individuals (including pre-existing diagnosed medical conditions). Using a ten-year span of the Canadian National Population Health Survey, we find that SAH does contain private information for future mortality and morbidity. Moreover, we find some evidence that the extra information in SAH is greater at older ages. Many developed countries are experiencing a major shift from defined benefit (DB) to defined contribution (DC) pension arrangements. One consequence of this shift is an effective delay in the age at which workers commit to an annuity. Our results therefore suggest that adverse selection problems in annuity markets could be more severe at older ages, and therefore, that the DB to DC shift may expose workers to greater longevity risk. This is an aspect of the DB to DC shift that has received little attention.
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