Social Differences in Health and Mortality in Old Age. Evidence from US Survey Data and Danish Register Data
Rasmus Hoffmann, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
My question is if and why social differences in health and mortality decrease with age. Most research finds this decrease but the reasons and the role of unobserved heterogeneity are unknown. My data come from the US Health and Retirement Study (N=9376) and from the Danish Demographic Database (Denmark’s population above age 58) that offer detailed information about SES and health information. Event-history-analysis is used and frailty models address mortality selection. A new method is developed to consider the systematic difference in the change of average frailty over age between social groups. SES differentials in mortality converge with age in Denmark but not in the US. In both countries they converge strongly with decreasing health. Controlled for health, the differences are stable across age in both countries. Controlling for mortality selection reduces the converging pattern over age.