Demographic and economic correlates of health in old age

by James P. Smith, Raynard Kington

Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price
Add to Cart Paperback12 pages Free

In this paper the authors examine disparities in the ability to function among older Americans. The authors place special emphasis on two goals: (1) understanding the quantitatively large socioeconomic status-health gradient, and (2) the persistence in health outcomes over long periods. The authors find that there exist strong contemporaneous and long-run feedbacks from health to economic status. In light of these feedbacks, it is important to distinguish among alternative sources of income and the recipient of income in the household. This research also demonstrates that health outcomes at old age are influenced by health attributes of past, concurrent, and future generations of relatives. Finally, the authors find that the demographic and economic differences that exist among them explain functional health disparities by race and ethnicity, but not by gender.

Research conducted by

Originally published in: Demography, v. 34, no. 1, February 1997, pp. 159-170.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.