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Health at Older Ages

The Causes and Consequences of Declining Disability Among the Elderly

Americans are living longer—and staying healthier longer—than ever before. Despite the rapid disappearance of pensions and health care benefits for retirees, older people are healthier and better off than they were twenty years ago. In Health at Older Ages, a distinguished team of economists analyzes the foundations of disability decline, quantifies this phenomenon in economic terms, and proposes what might be done to accelerate future improvements in the health of our most elderly populations.

This breakthrough volume argues that educational attainment, high socioeconomic status, an older retirement age, and accessible medical care have improved the health and quality of life of seniors. Along the way, it outlines the economic benefits of disability decline, such as an increased rate of seniors in the workplace, relief for the healthcare system and care-giving families, and reduced medical expenses for the elderly themselves. Health at Older Ages will be an essential contribution to the debate about meeting the medical needs of an aging nation.

512 pages | 100 line drawings, 124 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2009

National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report

Economics and Business: Health Economics

Table of Contents


     David M. Cutler, David A. Wise, and Richard G. Woodbury


     1. The Health of Older Men in the Past
     Dora L. Costa

     2. Arthritis: Changes in its Prevalence during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
     Paula Canavese and Robert W. Fogel

     3. Socioeconomic and Demographic Disparities in Trends in Old-Age Disability
     Robert F. Shoeni, Vicki A. Freedman, and Linda G. Martin


     4. Pathways to Disability: Predicting Health Trajectories
     Florian Heiss, Axel Börsch-Supan, Michael Hurd, and David A. Wise

     5. Clinincal Pathways to Disability
     Mary Beth Landrum, Kate A. Stewart, and David M. Cutler


     6. Intensive Medical Care and Cardiovascular Disease Disability Reductions
     David M. Cutler, Mary Beth Landrum, and Kate Stewart

     7. Are Baby Boomers Aging Better Than Their Predecessors? Trends in Overweight, Arthritis, and Mobility Difficulty
     Suzanne G. Leveille, Christina C. Wee, and Lisa I. Iezzoni

     8. Disability and Spending Growth
     Michael E. Chernew, Dana Goldman, Feng Pan, and Baoping Shang


     9. Work Disability is a Pain in the ****, Especially in England, the Netherlands, and the United States
     James Banks, Arie Kapteyn, James P. Smith, and Arthur van Soest

     10. Disability Risk and the Value of Disability Insurance
     Amitabh Chandra and Andrew A. Samwick

     11. Why Are the Disability Rolls Skyrocketing? The Contribution of Population Characteristics, Economic Conditions, and Program Generosity
     Mark Duggan and Scott A. Imberman

     12. Early Retirement and DI/SSI Applications: Exploring the Impact of Depression
     Rena M. Conti, Ernst R. Berndt, and Richard G. Frank


     13. Trends in Assistance with Daily Activities: Racial/Ethnic and Socioeconomic Disparities Persist in the U.S. Older Population
     Vicki A. Freedman, Linda G. Martin,Jennifer Cornman, Emily M. Agree, and Robert F. Schoeni

     14. How Do Medicare Beneficiaries with Physical and Sensory Disabilities Feel About Their Health Care?
     Lisa I. Iezzoni, Jane R. Soukup, and Suzanne G. Leveille

     15. Inter-Spousal Mortality Effects: Caregiver Burden Across the Spectrum of Disabling Disease
     Nicholas A. Christakis and Paul D. Allison

Author Index
Subject Index

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