Younger Race Crossover in Mortality in the United States

Felix Elwert, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, University of Wisconsin at Madison

African-American mortality exceeds white mortality in the United States from birth, but falls below white mortality in old age. Previous research has suggested two complementary explanations for this well-known race crossover in mortality: age misreporting, and selective frailty resulting in differential health distributions at older ages. Most previous work was focused on eliminating the crossover. This study examines individual-level longitudinal data on 28 million elderly Americans with rich covariate information (Medicare databases, 1993-2002). The size of the dataset, the accuracy of age reporting, and the availability of detailed physician-ascertained health information match or exceed the data used in previous studies. Preliminary results using flexible Poisson rate models suggest that the crossover persists despite the quality of the age data, and that controlling for key dimensions of frailty, rather than eliminating the crossover, reduces the age at which the crossover is observed by five years for men and women.

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Presented in Poster Session 5