Aging in the USA: Similarities and Disparities Across Time and Space
30 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2019
Date Written: October 7, 2019
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.
Keywords: health, aging, health deﬁcit index, United States
JEL Classification: I10, I19, J14, N32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation