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Does Widowhood Explain Gender Differences in Out-of-Pocket Medical Spending Among the Elderly?

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  • Gopi Shah Goda
  • John B. Shoven
  • Sita Nataraj Slavov

Abstract

Despite the presence of Medicare, out-of-pocket medical spending is a large expenditure risk facing the elderly. While women live longer than men, elderly women incur higher out-of-pocket medical spending than men at each age. In this paper, we examine whether differences in marital status and living arrangements can explain this difference. We find that out-of-pocket medical spending is approximately 29 percent higher when an individual becomes widowed, a large portion of which is spending on nursing homes. Our results suggest a substantial role of living arrangements in out-of-pocket medical spending; however, our estimates combined with differences in rates of widowhood across gender suggest that marital status can explain only one third of the gender difference in total out-of-pocket medical spending, leaving a large portion unexplained. On the other hand, gender differences in widowhood more than explain the observed gender difference in out-of-pocket spending on nursing homes.

Suggested Citation

  • Gopi Shah Goda & John B. Shoven & Sita Nataraj Slavov, 2011. "Does Widowhood Explain Gender Differences in Out-of-Pocket Medical Spending Among the Elderly?," NBER Working Papers 17440, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17440
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    Cited by:

    1. Borella, Margherita & De Nardi, Mariacristina & Yang, Fang, 2016. "The Aggregate Implications of Gender and Marriage," CEPR Discussion Papers 11728, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. repec:eee:joecag:v:6:y:2015:i:c:p:24-43 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Margherita Borella & Mariacristina De Nardi & Fang Yang, 2017. "Marriage-Related Policies in an Estimated Life-Cycle Model of Households' Labor Supply and Savings for Two Cohorts," NBER Working Papers 23972, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Fang Yang & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2016. "The Insurance Role of Marriage," 2016 Meeting Papers 427, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • 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
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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