Longevity Expectations and Death: Can People Predict Their Own Demise?

22 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2000  

V. Kerry Smith

Arizona State University (ASU) - Economics Department; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Donald H. Taylor Jr.

Duke University - Center for Health Policy, Law and Management

Frank A. Sloan

Duke University - Center for Health Policy, Law and Management; Duke University, Fuqua School of Business-Economics Group; Duke University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

Using four waves of the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) this paper tests whether longevity expectations predict actual mortality at the individual level. The results suggest longevity expectations do predict mortality reasonably well. Serious health shocks and new activity limitations do reduce longevity expectations. Given one is prepared to accept that other unobserved causal factors have the same means for those who die and those who survive in each wave it is possible to test whether longevity expectations can serve as a sufficient statistic. The test findings imply that they do not appear to reflect all that individuals know about their personal odds of living to seventy-five.

JEL Classification: I12, J14, D80

Suggested Citation

Smith, V. Kerry and Taylor, Donald H. and Sloan, Frank A., Longevity Expectations and Death: Can People Predict Their Own Demise?. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=236813 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.236813

V. Kerry Smith (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Economics Department ( email )

Tempe, AZ 85287-3806
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Donald H. Taylor Jr.

Duke University - Center for Health Policy, Law and Management ( email )

Box 90253
Durham, NC 27708
United States
(919) 684-2361 (Phone)
(919) 684-6426 (Fax)

Frank A. Sloan

Duke University - Center for Health Policy, Law and Management ( email )

Box 90253
Durham, NC 27708
United States
919-684-8047 (Phone)
919-684-6246 (Fax)

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business-Economics Group ( email )

Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0097
United States

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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