How Different is a College Degree From a Spouse?

More educated individuals face substantially lower mortality rates than less educated ones. In our recent paper Pijoan-Mas and Ríos-Rull (2014), we use data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to compute expected longevity at age 50 for white males and white females of different education levels in the US (the focus on these age and race groups is because of sample sizes.) We find that the difference in expected longevity between college graduates and individuals without a high school degree is large: 6.6 years for males and 5.8 years for females.

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The Widening Inequality in Elderly Property Wealth

The UK government’s 2014 Care Act for England is due to come into force in April 2016.  It will introduce a £72,000 cap on the amount anyone should pay for care in their lifetime.  The point at which individuals would have to start contributing to care is proposed to be set at around £118,000 worth of assets (savings and property). The act has arisen in response to concerns about population ageing and the imbalance between taxes being paid by a shrinking workforce, and the demands on health and welfare funds by an increasing number of elderly people.

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The Net Contributions Made by Immigrants and Danes to Danish Public Finances

Marie Louise Schultz-Nielsen and Torben Tranæs have published a paper (Working Paper nr. 30, Rockwool Foundation, Research Unit, Copenhagen, 2014) investigating immigration as a solution to the challenges that an aging population represents. The paper is in Danish, but I think their research deserves a wider audience. Their investigation poses the question of whether immigration from different parts of the world can contribute to the financial challenges that an aging population represents. Secondly, the paper investigates how the annual net contribution changes over time, and what the average contribution is from ethnic Danes, Western immigrants and non-Western immigrants [1]. That way, the different sizes of the groups and the changes of net contribution over the life span are taken into account. Finally, it investigates how changes in immigration affect the public finances.
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How has Children’s Growth Changed over Time?

The past 150 years have seen a massive improvement in the health of populations in Europe and North America. People live longer, eat larger quantities of more nutritious food, get sick less often and have better access to healthcare and medical technology. These general improvements have led to a large increase in the average height of the population: 11 cm in Britain. This large increase in height made me wonder a couple of years ago whether and how children’s growth has changed over time as well. This blog post explains what we currently know about the differences between child growth today and in the past, and why it is important to study changes in children’s growth over time.

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Prioritising Care Services: Do the Oldest Users Lose Out?

Population ageing is a major concern in most European countries. With an ageing population, people at employable age will have to provide for an increasing number of pensioners. Demands for health and care services will also increase, as older people typically have higher needs for such services. Such concerns are high on the political agenda in most European countries. What is often overlooked, however, is that older users increasingly compete with younger users over the same limited care resources. This is certainly the case in Norway, where responsibilities for care services have gradually been transferred to the local level over the past 20 years, with no national guidelines on the distribution of resources between groups of users.

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Explaining Gender Differentials in Child Mortality in India

Gender differences in child health and mortality pose a critical challenge for public health surveillance and policy in India. Recent Sample Registration System (SRS) reports indicate that female children experience higher mortality than boys. The 2012 SRS report pointed to a significant gap (9 per 1000 live births) in under-five mortality rates between males and females. However, the nature of gender differentials in child mortality is changing.

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Does Inequality Make People Concerned about Inequality?

Income inequality has risen to prominence as one of the central political issues of our time. Since the Great Recession, protests linked to the Occupy movement have occurred in many different countries around the world, often under slogans such as “We are the 99%”. A recent survey by the World Economic Forum of 700 elite decision-makers identified “Severe income disparity” as the 4th most concerning global risk in 2014. And 68% of investors responding to a recent Bloomberg Global Poll said that governments should confront the problem of income inequality. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, reiterated these concerns when she spoke to the Financial Times early last year.

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Singlehood: The (Surprising) Ways it Still Matters in Old Age

Declining marriage rates in many societies, in particular among the poorer and disadvantaged population groups, has sparked growing interest.  Current debates are often focused on whether the ‘failure’ to marry signifies deficiencies on the part of the individual, or insufficient societal resourcing of some groups to make them ‘marriageable’. Concerns are frequently expressed about old age being a grim prospect for the never-married, due to the lack of care and support from a spouse and adult children. In aggregate, such views and debates convey a negative picture of singlehood, and of unmarried people who are seen as especially problematic when they become old.

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Training and Labour Market Outcomes of Older Workers: Evidence from Eleven EU Countries

Population ageing, together with low economic growth, has put pressure on the financial equilibrium of many pension systems in Europe and other industrialized countries, forcing governments to increase the average retirement age. An extended working life – combined with the rapid technological progress taking place in many sectors – is likely to render the skills older workers attained at school obsolete. In this context, lifelong investment in training is a key strategy for increasing, or at least limiting the decline in, the productivity of older workers.

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Prenatal Exposure to Violence and Birth Weight in Mexico. Can Mother’s Behaviors Make a Difference?

Research from biology and psychology has shown that the prenatal period is sensitive to the environment and critical for later development. While the effects of toxins such as alcohol and nicotine on the fetus are well documented, the effect of maternal stress is more difficult to assess. The main reason is unobserved selectivity. Women who experience or report high levels of stress may be different from those who don’t in ways that affect their pregnancies, making it impossible to disentangle the effect of stress from its common correlates. The question is important because stress is widespread, stratified along socioeconomic and racial lines, and may be a central mechanism for the noxious effect of poverty or discrimination on children. We examine the effect of maternal stress and address the unobserved selectivity problem in a recent ASR article.

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