Socio-Economic Status and Mortality: Perceptions and Outcomes

David Weir, University of Michigan

This paper uses over 300,000 person-years of observation in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to study the relationship of education, income, and wealth to mortality expectations and mortality outcomes in older Americans. Using quintiles to facilitate comparison across variables, we find that all three SES measures significantly predict mortality, but that education is weaker than the other two which are realized later in life. Conversely, the mortality expectations offered by HRS respondents place greater weight on education and less on wealth. SES accounts for most of black-white differentials in mortality, whereas it unveils an Hispanic advantage relative to whites that was masked by lower SES. Hispanics and women consistently overestimate their mortality relative to others. The final version of the paper will incorporate measures of health and health behaviors.

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Presented in Session 128: Socioeconomic Differentials in Mortality