|Title||HEALTHY AGING IN OLDER ADULTS: THE ROLE OF CHILDHOOD CIRCUMSTANCES AND LIFECYCLE FACTORS|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2015|
|Authors||Ferdows, NB, Jensen, GA, Tarraf, W|
|Keywords||childhood effects, healthy aging, lifecycle factors|
Objectives. We examine the direct and indirect effects of childhood and later-life circumstances on “healthy aging” among U.S adults ages 65-years and older. Methods. Using 2010 Health and Retirement Study data, we estimate “healthy aging” as the output of a health production function, produced by childhood health and socioeconomic status, adult socioeconomic achievements, health habits and pertinent demographics. In addition to the direct effects of these factors on healthy aging, we examine the indirect effects of childhood factors that operate through adult achievements. Results. The proportion of respondents satisfying our criteria for “healthy aging” was 0.12. Good childhood health status (vs. average) had both a positive direct effect (0.0461; p\<0.01) and indirect effect (0.0026; p\<0.05) on healthy aging, for a total effect of 0.0487. The direct effect of father’s education (0.0166; p=0.161) and mother’s education (0.0177; p=0.128) were not significant. However, having a father with a high-school or above education (0.0047; p\<0.05), having a mother with a high-school or above education (0.0054; p\<0.05) had clear indirect positive effects on healthy aging. Finally, respondent’s own education, personal finances, and all current period health habits were also strongly associated with healthy aging. Conclusion. Our findings complement available research on the health of US older adults by showing that healthy aging is a function of both childhood and adult factors and later life habits. The pathways from childhood factors to healthy aging, however, could be more complex than previously reported.