U.S. 2050 Project

December 12, 2017

What will America look like at mid-century? US 2050 is an initiative of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and the Ford Foundation to examine and analyze the multiple demographic, socioeconomic, and fiscal trends that will shape the nation in the decades ahead. Engaging leading scholars in multiple disciplines including demographics, poverty studies, labor economics, macroeconomics, political science, and sociology, US 2050 will create a comprehensive view of our economic and fiscal future – and the implications for the social and financial well-being of Americans.

via US 2050


No ‘Honeymoon Phase’ – Whose Health Benefits from Retirement and When

December 9, 2017

I use a fixed effects instrumental variable approach to determine the effect retirement has on health. The exogenous variation in the probability to retire at the normal and early retirement age thresholds is exploited to instrument for the otherwise endogenous retirement decision. Six health aspects are considered: self-assessed health, depression, limitations in (instrumental) activities of daily living, mobility limitations, grip strength and number of words recalled. Using data for 10 countries from the Survey of Health, Retirement and Ageing in Europe (SHARE), I find that retiring both at the normal and early retirement eligibility ages significantly improves all health aspects, including the objective measure grip strength. Results do not generally support the theory that previous research was biased towards zero due to behavioral changes during the anticipation phase prior to retirement. Results also do not show the presence of a honeymoon phase directly following the start of retirement, in which individuals are believed to experience a euphoric state leading health improvements. It appears that individuals, especially blue collar workers, go through an adjustment period after retirement in which they experience more health problems, before stabilizing and improving. Overall, retirement has a health preserving effect for both genders and all occupations in the long term. Neither blue collar workers nor workers with physically or psychologically demanding jobs benefit more from retirement than others.

via No ‘Honeymoon Phase’ – Whose Health Benefits from Retirement and When by Birgit Leimer :: SSRN


The Demographic Deficit

December 9, 2017

There has been a slowdown in growth in the world’s most advanced economies. In this paper we argue that changing demographics, in particular aging populations combined with increased life expectancy, may be part of the explanation for why we observe slower growth, falling interest rates and falling productivity growth. Using Japan and the U.S. in the years prior to the financial crises as a case study, we provide estimates of the growth deficit that arises from an aging cohort structure and increasing life expectancy. We also provide projections of the impact of predictable demographic changes on future growth in the U.S. and Japan.

via The Demographic Deficit by Espen Henriksen, Thomas Cooley :: SSRN


Compare Medical and College Inflation with Services, not Goods | Cato @ Liberty

July 28, 2017

Have Medical Care prices risen faster than Services prices in general? Yes, but the difference in annualized price increases was typically smaller than one percentage point except in 2002 and 2010, when recession’s aftermath depressed other services prices more than (heavily-subsidized) medical care prices. Recessions’ impact on commodity prices pushed the year-to-year overall CPI below zero at times, which underscores the inaptness of comparing prices of medical or educational services to any price index such as the CPI which is heavily weighted by goods.

Source: Compare Medical and College Inflation with Services, not Goods | Cato @ Liberty


Longer lifespans largely not to blame for rising health care spending | The Incidental Economist

January 25, 2017

In other words, living longer doesn’t increase health care spending so much as it delays the large amount spent near death. Some health care spending is associated with those intervening, relatively healthy years, just not much compared with that spent in one’s final years.Living longer offers many benefits. That it isn’t, by itself, a major contributor to health care spending is a nice bonus.

Source: Longer lifespans largely not to blame for rising health care spending | The Incidental Economist


Fiscal Stabilization and the Credibility of the U.S. Budget Sequestration Spending Austerity by Ruiyang Hu, Carlos E.J.M. Zarazaga :: SSRN

January 21, 2017

Fiscal imbalances predating the Great Recession but aggravated by it prompted the U.S. Congress to enact in 2011 legislation that, in the absence of other measures, would trigger two years later a so-called “budget sequestration” procedure that implied reducing government discretionary spending to unprecedented low levels over the following decade. For that reason, economic agents may not have expected this “fiscal stabilization measure of last resort” to be sustainable when it was put into effect in 2013 as scheduled. This is exactly the issue this paper set out to explore, on the grounds that sizing up the expectations that economic agents had about the budget sequestration can provide powerful insights on how fiscal stabilization is likely to proceed in the U.S., going forward. The paper makes inferences about the credibility enjoyed by the budget sequestration with an adapted version of the Business Cycle Accounting approach, originally developed for other purposes.

The main finding is that the evidence favors a scenario in which spending cuts are half the size of those actually implied by the sequester. The paper takes this result as an indication that the U.S. is unlikely to address its unresolved fiscal imbalances with just spending austerity, an interpretation consistent with existing literature that traces the seemingly anomalous behavior of economic variables during the Great Recession and its aftermath to alternative fiscal stabilization mechanisms.

Source: Fiscal Stabilization and the Credibility of the U.S. Budget Sequestration Spending Austerity by Ruiyang Hu, Carlos E.J.M. Zarazaga :: SSRN


How Does Technological Change Affect Quality ­Adjusted Prices in Health Care? Systematic Evidence from Thousands of Innovations by Kristopher Hult, Sonia Jaffe, Tomas Philipson :: SSRN

January 5, 2017

Medical innovations have improved survival and treatment for many diseases but have simultaneously raised spending on health care. Many health economists believe that technological change is the major factor driving the growth of the heath care sector. Whether quality has increased as much as spending is a central question for both positive and normative analysis of this sector. This is a question of the impact of new innovations on quality-adjusted prices in health care. We preform a systematic analysis of the impact of technological change on quality-adjusted prices, with over six thousand comparisons of innovations to incumbent technologies. For each innovation in our dataset, we observe its price and quality, as well as the price and quality of an incumbent technology treating the same disease. Our main finding is that an innovation’s quality-adjusted prices is higher than the incumbent’s for about two-thirds (68%) of innovations. Despite this finding, we argue that quality-adjusted prices may fall or rise over time depending on how fast prices decline for a given treatment over time. We calibrate that price declines of 4% between the time when a treatment is a new innovation and the time when it has become the incumbent would be sufficient to offset the observed price difference between innovators and incumbents for a majority of indications. Using standard duopoly models of price competition for differentiated products, we analyze and assess empirically the conditions under which quality-adjusted prices will be higher for innovators than incumbents. We conclude by discussing the conditions particular to the health care industry that may result in less rapid declines, or even increases, in quality-adjusted prices over time.

Source: How Does Technological Change Affect Quality ­Adjusted Prices in Health Care? Systematic Evidence from Thousands of Innovations by Kristopher Hult, Sonia Jaffe, Tomas Philipson :: SSRN