The Last of Life, For Which the First Was Made?

This is from a NBER Working Paper by David Cutler, Kaushik Ghosh, and Mary Beth Landrum:

Hutils-5587035ealth status in the year or two just prior to death has been relatively constant over time; in contrast, health measured three or more years before death has improved measurably…We show that disability-free life expectancy is increasing over time, while disabled life expectancy is falling. For a typical person aged 65, life expectancy increased by 0.7 years between 1992 and 2005. Disability-free life expectancy increased by 1.6 years; disabled life expectancy fell by 0.9 years. The reduction in disabled life expectancy and increase in disability-free life expectancy is true for both genders and for non-whites as well as whites. Hence, morbidity is being compressed into the period just before death.

HT: Timothy Taylor.

Comments (13)

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  1. Lucy says:

    The problem with health care is that it will always fails us in the end.

  2. Rachel says:

    It’s good to know that there have been some improvements in disability-free life expectancy.

  3. Perry says:

    There was an excellent piece on NPR this week about palliative care, wherein an 85 yr old lady with heart failure and kidney failure chose to live at home and not have dialysis.
    I think we need to consider the realities of what modern medicine can and cannot do, and allow individuals to make choices to be comfortable instead of going through interminable tests and hospitalizations.

  4. Margaret says:

    “Disability-free life expectancy increased by 1.6 years; disabled life expectancy fell by 0.9 years.”

    I hope the disabled are still getting the care they need. I fear that with Obamacare, health care for the disabled will decline substantially.

    • Carter says:

      You fear wrong Margaret. Millions who were once uninsured will now have insurance thanks to Obamacare. I can rest easy at night now knowing that my kids are safe and insured.

  5. Devon Herrick says:

    David Cutler’s book Your Money or Your Life discusses the value of medical spending. His premise is that in the United States we pay a lot for medical care, but we get a lot in return for the money spent.