Trends in Health and Mortality Inequalities in the United States

66 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2019

See all articles by Péter Hudomiet

Péter Hudomiet

RAND Corporation

Michael Hurd

RAND Corporation - Santa Monica CA Offices

Susann Rohwedder

RAND Corporation

Date Written: September 2019

Abstract

Recent literature has documented a widening gap in mortality in the United States between individuals with high socioeconomic status (SES) and low SES. An important question is whether this trend will continue. In this paper we document trends and inequalities in the health status at ages 54 to 60 of individuals born between 1934 and 1959. We do so by using detailed subjective and objective measures of health in the Health and Retirement Study to examine contributors to mortality inequality and to forecast life expectancy. We found that the health of individuals 54 to 60 years old has generally declined in recent years. In particular, we found large increases in obesity rates, notable increases in diabetes and reported levels of pain, and lower self-reported health and subjective survival probabilities. We also found strong evidence for increasing health inequalities, as the health of individuals in these cohorts with high SES remained largely stable while that for individuals with low SES declined. When we forecast life expectancies using these predictor variables, as well as gender- and SES-specific time trends, we predict overall life expectancy to increase further. However, the increase is concentrated among high SES individuals, suggesting growing mortality inequality. Results are similar among men and women.

Keywords: mortality, socioeconomic status, Social Security benefits

Suggested Citation

Hudomiet, Péter and Hurd, Michael and Rohwedder, Susann, Trends in Health and Mortality Inequalities in the United States (September 2019). Michigan Retirement Research Center Research Paper No. 2019-401 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3507536 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3507536

Péter Hudomiet (Contact Author)

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

Michael Hurd

RAND Corporation - Santa Monica CA Offices ( email )

P.O. Box 2138
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

Susann Rohwedder

RAND Corporation ( email )

P.O. Box 2138
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
31
Abstract Views
247
PlumX Metrics