Place-Based Drivers of Mortality: Evidence from Migration

74 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2019 Last revised: 1 Aug 2019

See all articles by Amy Finkelstein

Amy Finkelstein

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Matthew Gentzkow

Stanford University

Heidi Williams

Stanford University

Date Written: June 2019


We estimate the effect of current location on elderly mortality by analyzing outcomes of movers in the Medicare population. We control for movers' origin locations as well as a rich vector of pre-move health measures. We also develop a novel strategy to adjust for remaining unobservables, based on the assumption that the relative importance of observables and unobservables correlated with movers' destinations is the same as the relative importance of those correlated with movers' origins. We estimate substantial effects of current location. Moving from a 10th to a 90th percentile location would increase life expectancy at age 65 by 1.1 years, and equalizing location effects would reduce cross-sectional variation in life expectancy by 15 percent. Places with favorable life expectancy effects tend to have higher quality and quantity of health care, less extreme climates, lower crime rates, and higher socioeconomic status.

Suggested Citation

Finkelstein, Amy and Gentzkow, Matthew and Williams, Heidi, Place-Based Drivers of Mortality: Evidence from Migration (June 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25975, Available at SSRN:

Amy Finkelstein (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-588-0361 (Phone)
617-868-7242 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Matthew Gentzkow

Stanford University ( email )

Heidi Williams

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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