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Changes in the Process of Aging During the Twentieth Century: Findings and Procedures of the Early Indicators Project

  • Robert W. Fogel

The program project Early Indicators of Later Work Levels, Disease and Death investigates how socioeconomic and environmental factors in early life can shape health and work levels in later life. Project researchers have approached this problem by creating a life-cycle sample that permits a longitudinal study of the aging of Union Army veterans, the first cohort to reach age 65 during the twentieth century. Comparing Union Army data with data from NHANES and NHIS has shown that age-specific prevalence rates of specific chronic diseases and disabilities were much higher in the century before World War II among both young and old than today. Moreover, the number of comorbidities at each age has fallen sharply. Also, the average age at onset of chronic diseases was more than a decade later at the end of the twentieth century than at the beginning. The implications of these findings for several issues in health economics are discussed.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9941.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9941.

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Date of creation: Sep 2003
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Publication status: published as In "Aging, Health, and Public Policy," ed. L.J. Waite, Population and Development Review 30, 2004. p. 19-47
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9941
Note: AG DAE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Werner Troesken & Patricia E.. Beeson, 2003. "The Significance of Lead Water Mains in American Cities. Some Historical Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: Health and Labor Force Participation over the Life Cycle: Evidence from the Past, pages 181-202 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Larry T. Wimmer, 2003. "Reflections on the Early Indicators Project.A Partial History," NBER Chapters, in: Health and Labor Force Participation over the Life Cycle: Evidence from the Past, pages 1-10 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Timothy Waidmann & John Bound & Michael Schoenbaum, 1995. "The Illusion of Failure: Trends in the Self-Reported Health of the U.S. Elderly," NBER Working Papers 5017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Werner Troesken, 2003. "Lead Water Pipes and Infant Mortality in Turn-of-the-Century Massachusetts," NBER Working Papers 9549, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Verbrugge, Lois M. & Jette, Alan M., 1994. "The disablement process," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 1-14, January.
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