Predictors of Mortality among the Elderly

Edited by Michael D. Hurd, Daniel McFadden and Angela Merrill

in Themes in the Economics of Aging

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780226902845
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226903330 | DOI:
Predictors of Mortality among the Elderly

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The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the Asset and Health Dynamics of the Oldest Old (AHEAD) study asked each respondent to give an estimate of his or her chances of surviving to a target age, which was approximately twelve years in the future. In the HRS, this variable is a significant predictor of mortality between waves 1 and 2. This chapter aims to find if it has predictive power for mortality in the AHEAD population both unconditionally and conditionally on observable characteristics. It aims to verify that socioeconomic status (SES) is related to mortality in the AHEAD data. Next, it gives evidence about the validity of the subjective survival probabilities. The evidence is of three kinds: whether the subjective survival probabilities vary in cross-section in a way that is appropriate given the variation in actual mortality; how the subjective survival probabilities change in panel in response to new information such as the onset of an illness; and whether they predict actual mortality. It examines whether, conditional on health status and SES, the subjective survival probabilities have explanatory power for predicting mortality. A commentary is also included at the end of the chapter.

Keywords: Health and Retirement Study; AHEAD; mortality; socioeconomic status; survival

Chapter.  10155 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economics

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