Does the Impact of Socioeconomic Status (SES) on Mortality Decrease with Age?

Rasmus Hoffmann, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

The impact of SES on mortality is an established fact. I examine if this impact decreases with age. Most research finds this decrease but it is unknown whether it is due to mortality selection. My data come from the US-Health and Retirement Study with 9376 persons from age 59+ followed from 1992 to 2000. The variables allow a time varying measurement of SES, health and behavior. Event-history-analysis is applied to analyze differences in mortality rates. Socioeconomic mortality differences are stable across ages whereas they decline clearly with decreasing health. The first finding that health is the equalizer rather than age combined with the second finding that health itself is unequally distributed leads to the conclusion that in old age, the impact of SES is transferred to the health status and hence it is stable across ages.

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Presented in Session 104: Health and the Life Course