Volume 13 - Article 2 | Pages 35–62

Do socioeconomic mortality differences decrease with rising age?

By Rasmus Hoffmann

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Date received:17 Aug 2004
Date published:09 Aug 2005
Word count:7319
Keywords:health, Health and Retirement Study (HRS), mortality, old age, socioeconomic differentials, socioeconomic status, United States


The impact of SES on mortality is an established finding in mortality research. I examine, whether this impact decreases with age. Most research finds evidence for this decrease but it is unknown whether the decline is due to mortality selection. My data come from the US-HRS Study and includes 9376 persons aged 59+, which are followed over 8 years. The variables allow a time varying measurement of SES, health and behavior. Event-history-analysis is applied to analyze mortality differentials.
My results show that socioeconomic mortality differences are stable across ages whereas they decline clearly with decreasing health. The first finding that health rather than age is the equalizer combined with the second finding of unequally distributed health leads to the conclusion that in old age, the impact of SES is transferred to health and is stable across ages.

Author's Affiliation

Rasmus Hoffmann - Erasmus University Medical Center, Netherlands [Email]

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