International Differences in Longevity and Health and Their Economic Consequences

TitleInternational Differences in Longevity and Health and Their Economic Consequences
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsMichaud, P-C, Goldman, DP, Lakdawalla, D, Gailey, A, Zheng, Y
Series TitleNBER Working Paper
Document Number15235
InstitutionThe National Bureau of Economic Research
CityCambridge, MA
KeywordsCross-National, Health Conditions and Status, Healthcare, Medicare/Medicaid/Health Insurance, Public Policy

In 1975, 50 year-old Americans could expect to live slightly longer than their European counterparts. By 2005, American life expectancy at that age has diverged substantially compared to Europe. We find that this growing longevity gap is primarily the symptom of real declines in the health of near-elderly Americans, relative to their European peers. In particular, we use a microsimulation approach to project what US longevity would look like, if US health trends approximated those in Europe. We find that differences in health can explain most of the growing gap in remaining life expectancy. In addition, we quantify the public finance consequences of this deterioration in health. The model predicts that gradually moving American cohorts to the health status enjoyed by Europeans could save up to 1.1 trillion in discounted total health expenditures from 2004 to 2050.

Endnote Keywords

SHARE/Public Policy/health Care/Medicare/Longevity

Endnote ID


Citation Key5772