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Insights in the Economics of Aging$
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David A. Wise

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226426679

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226426709.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Understanding the Improvement in Disability-Free Life Expectancy in the US Elderly Population

Understanding the Improvement in Disability-Free Life Expectancy in the US Elderly Population

(p.161) 5 Understanding the Improvement in Disability-Free Life Expectancy in the US Elderly Population
Insights in the Economics of Aging

Michael Chernew

David M. Cutler

Kaushik Ghosh

Mary Beth Landrum

Jonathan Skinner

University of Chicago Press

Understanding how healthy lifespans are changing is essential for public policy. This paper explores changes in healthy lifespan in the U.S. over time and considers reasons for the changes. We reach three fundamental conclusions. First, we show that healthy life increased measurably in the US between 1992 and 2008. Years of healthy life expectancy at age 65 increased by 1.8 years over that time period, while disabled life expectancy fell by 0.5 years. Second, we identify the medical conditions that contribute the most to changes in healthy life expectancy. The largest improvements in healthy life expectancy come from reduced incidence and improved functioning for those with cardiovascular disease and vision problems. Together, these conditions account for 63 percent of the improvement in disability-free life expectancy. Third and more speculatively, we explore the role of medical treatments in the improvements for these two conditions. We estimate that improved medical care is likely responsible for a significant part of the cardiovascular and vision-related extension of healthy life.

Keywords:   Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, self-reported medical events, health status questions on ADL and IADLs, National Center for Health Statistics, disability-free life expectancy, Oaxaca decomposition, pharmaceutical and surgical Interventions, major cardiovascular events and mortality, IMPACT mortality model, vision problem acuity

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