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Unformatted text preview: The Determinants of Mortality David Cutler, Angus Deaton and Adriana Lleras-Muney T he pleasures of life are worth nothing if one is not alive to experience them. Through the twentieth century in the United States and other high-income countries, growth in real incomes was accompanied by a historically unprecedented decline in mortality rates that caused life expectancy at birth to grow by nearly 30 years. The value of reductions in mortality risk can be roughly estimated from (admittedly heroic extrapolations of) differential wages in the labor market corre- sponding to differentials in the risk of death across occupations. Applying this methodology, Nordhaus (2002, p. 35) has calculated that to a first approximation, the economic value of increases in longevity in the last hundred years is about as large as the value of measured growth in nonhealth goods and services. Falling mortality has also usually meant better health for the living, so that people are also living better, healthier, and longer lives than did their forebears. Murphy and Topel (2005), who measure both the value of mortality decline and the benefits of better health for the living, estimate that, between 1970 and 2000, the annual value of increased longevity was about half of conventionally measured national income. Improvements in life expectancy in the United States have been matched by similar improvements in other rich countries. Indeed, there has been a rapid y David Cutler is Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics, Harvard University, Cam- bridge, Massachusetts, Angus Deaton is Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Professor of Economics and International Affairs, both at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey. Adriana Lleras-Muney is Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey. Cutler and Deaton are Research Associates and Lleras-Muney is a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Journal of Economic PerspectivesVolume 20, Number 3Summer 2006Pages 97120 convergence of older adult mortality rates since 1970 in rich countries, particularly among men (Deaton, 2004, Figure 7). Outside of the rich countries, average health is strongly correlated with income. As shown in Figure 1, the current version of a graph first drawn by Preston (1975) in which countries are represented by circles and the size of the circle is proportional to population, life-expectancy is pro- foundly lower for countries with lower levels of per capita income....
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This note was uploaded on 01/18/2012 for the course PADP 8610 taught by Professor Ferig during the Fall '11 term at University of Georgia Athens.
- Fall '11