U.S. Mortality Advantage at Older Ages?

Alberto Palloni, University of Wisconsin-Madison
James A. Yonker, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Americans experience higher mortality than their peers in other high-income countries for most of the life course, but recent work has shown that at the oldest ages they experience a mortality advantage--a phenomenon we call the “US mortality crossover.” In this paper we document the crossover and time trends thereof. We find that the age of crossover increases linearly by about 0.5 years per year, which is in stark contrast to previous work that indicated a roughly fixed age crossover. We interrogate several potential explanations for a steadily increasing crossover age. While none is completely satisfactory, we rule out differential age misstatement, selection, and access to and quality of health care. We find that the most plausible explanation involves the deleterious effects of differential smoking patterns working through the life table.

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Presented in Session 147: Mortality Trends