The Medical Costs of the Young and Old: A Forty Year Perspective

48 Pages Posted: 16 May 2000 Last revised: 6 Oct 2010

See all articles by David M. Cutler

David M. Cutler

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Ellen Meara

Harvard Medical School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 1997

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the growth in medical care spending by age over the past 40 years. We show that between 1953 and 1987, medical spending increased disproportionately for infants, those under 1 year, and the elderly, those 65 and older. Annual spending growth for infants was 9.8 percent and growth for the elderly was 8.0 percent compared to 4.7 percent for people aged 1-64. Within the infant and the elderly population, excess spending growth was largely driven by more rapid growth of spending at the top of the medical spending distribution. Aggregate changes in outcomes for infants and the elderly are consistent with these changes in spending growth, but we do not present any causal evidence on this point.

Suggested Citation

Cutler, David M. and Meara, Ellen, The Medical Costs of the Young and Old: A Forty Year Perspective (July 1997). NBER Working Paper No. w6114. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=55149

David M. Cutler (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Ellen Meara

Harvard Medical School ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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