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Aging in the USA: Similarities and disparities across time and space

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  • Abeliansky, Ana Lucia
  • Erel, Devin
  • Strulik, Holger

Abstract

We study biological aging of elderly U.S. Americans born 1904-1966. We use thirteen waves of the Health and Retirement Study and construct a health deficit index as the number of health deficits present in a person measured relative to the number of potential deficits. We find that, on average, Americans develop 5 percent more health deficits per year, that men age slightly faster than women, and that, at any age above 50, Caucasians display significantly less health deficits than African Americans. We also document a steady time trend of health improvements. For each year of later birth, health deficits decline on average by about 1 percent. This health trend is about the same across regions and for men and women, but significantly lower for African Americans compared to Caucasians. In non-linear regressions, we find that regional differences in aging follow a particular regularity, akin to the compensation effect of mortality. Health deficits converge for men and women and across American regions and suggest a life span of the American population of about 97 years.

Suggested Citation

  • Abeliansky, Ana Lucia & Erel, Devin & Strulik, Holger, 2019. "Aging in the USA: Similarities and disparities across time and space," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 384, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cegedp:384
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Johannes Schuenemann & Holger Strulik & Timo Trimborn, 2020. "The Marriage Gap: Optimal Aging and Death in Partnerships," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 36, pages 158-176, April.
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    6. Carl‐Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2016. "Physiology and Development: Why the West is Taller Than the Rest," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(598), pages 2292-2323, December.
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    12. Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2017. "The gender gap in mortality: How much is explained by behavior?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 79-90.
    13. Strulik, Holger, 2019. "I shouldn’t eat this donut: Self-control, body weight, and health in a life cycle model," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 14(C).
    14. Ana Lucia Abeliansky & Holger Strulik, 2018. "How We Fall Apart: Similarities of Human Aging in 10 European Countries," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 55(1), pages 341-359, February.
    15. Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2017. "Going from bad to worse: Adaptation to poor health health spending, longevity, and the value of life," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 130-146.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carl‐Johan Dalgaard & Casper Worm Hansen & Holger Strulik, 2021. "Fetal origins—A life cycle model of health and aging from conception to death," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(6), pages 1276-1290, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    health; aging; health deficit index; United States;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I19 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Other
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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