International Comparisons in Health Economics: Evidence from Aging Studies

45 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2012

See all articles by James P. Smith

James P. Smith

RAND Corporation; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

James W. Banks

Institute for Fiscal Studies; The University of Manchester

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Date Written: October 4, 2011


The authors provide an overview of the growing literature that uses micro-level data from multiple countries to investigate health outcomes, and their link to socioeconomic factors, at older ages. Since the data are at a comparatively young stage, much of the analysis is at an early stage and limited to a handful of countries, with analysis for the US and England being the most common. What is immediately apparent as they get better measures is that health differences between countries amongst those at older ages are real and large. Countries are ranked differently according to whether one considers life-expectancy, prevalence or incidence of one condition or another. And the magnitude of international disparities may vary according to whether measures utilize doctor diagnosed conditions or biomarker-based indicators of disease and poor health. But one key finding emerges – the US ranks poorly on all indicators with the exception of self-reported subjective health status.

Suggested Citation

Smith, James P. and Banks, James W., International Comparisons in Health Economics: Evidence from Aging Studies (October 4, 2011). RAND Working Paper Series No. WR-880, Available at SSRN: or

James P. Smith (Contact Author)

RAND Corporation ( email )

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James W. Banks

Institute for Fiscal Studies ( email )

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The University of Manchester

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