Social vulnerability and aging of elderly people in the United States

TitleSocial vulnerability and aging of elderly people in the United States
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsAbeliansky, ALucia, Erel, D, Strulik, H
JournalSSM - Population Health
ISSN Number2352-8273
Keywordsfrailty index, health, Social capital, Social vulnerability

We use 7 waves of the Health and Retirement Study and construct a social vulnerability index (SVI) for elderly U.S. Americans (born 1913–1966). We show that the SVI is mildly larger for men than for women and increases in age from above age 60 onwards for both genders. Social vulnerability of men (but not of women) is lower in the West and Midwest than in other regions and higher income mildly reduces the SVI for men (but not for women). In cohort analysis we find an increase of the SVI for individuals born in the late 1940s or later, which is, however, statistically significant only for women. In order to investigate the nexus between social vulnerability and aging, we construct a frailty index from the same data. We find that socially vulnerable persons display more health deficits at any age. Using the initial SVI (at first interview) we find that social vulnerability exerts a significant impact on subsequent accumulation of health deficits, which is of about the same size for men and women. A one standard deviation increase in the initial SVI leads to a 20 percent increase of the frailty index at any age.

Citation KeyABELIANSKY2021100924