Home Safety, Accessibility, and Elderly Health: Evidence from Falls

Journal of Urban Economics, Volume 87, May 2015, Pages 14-24

Posted: 20 Nov 2017

See all articles by Lindner College of Bus. RPS Submitter

Lindner College of Bus. RPS Submitter

University of Cincinnati - Lindner College of Business

Michael D. Eriksen

University of Cincinnati - Department of Finance - Real Estate

Gary V. Engelhardt

Syracuse University

Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley

Kent State University

Date Written: May 1, 2015

Abstract

This article presents estimates of the impact of home safety and accessibility features on the prevention of serious, non-fatal falls for elderly widowed individuals. As these features are not randomly assigned across homes, we develop an instrumental variable (IV) strategy that relies on the differential decline in the health and functional status of spouses to identify impacts. Specifically, we use the deceased spouse’s functional status when alive, as measured by limits to Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), as an IV for the presence of home safety and accessibility features for the surviving spouse in the years after widowhood, and then estimate the effect of these features on the likelihood of a serious fall for the widow using rich longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study. The presence of such features reduces the likelihood of a fall requiring medical treatment by 20 percentage points, a substantial effect. However, falls are not the type of health shock that is a main driver of housing tenure transitions among the elderly. Although somewhat speculative, cost–benefit estimates suggest that investments in home safety for the elderly may generate in the short run as much as a dollar-for-dollar reduction in medical expenditures.

Keywords: Housing, Health, Elderly

JEL Classification: H5, I1, R2

Suggested Citation

RPS Submitter, Lindner College of Bus. and Eriksen, Michael D. and Engelhardt, Gary V. and Greenhalgh-Stanley, Nadia, Home Safety, Accessibility, and Elderly Health: Evidence from Falls (May 1, 2015). Journal of Urban Economics, Volume 87, May 2015, Pages 14-24. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3072598

Lindner College of Bus. RPS Submitter (Contact Author)

University of Cincinnati - Lindner College of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 210195
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0195
United States

Michael D. Eriksen

University of Cincinnati - Department of Finance - Real Estate ( email )

College of Business Administration
Cincinnati, OH 45221
United States

Gary V. Engelhardt

Syracuse University ( email )

900 S. Crouse Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2130
United States

Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley

Kent State University ( email )

466 College of Business
Kent State University
Kent, OH 44242
United States
(330)672-1087 (Phone)

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