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Contributions of Economists and Economics to Study of Aging. Robert A. Moffitt Johns Hopkins University May 18, 2011. Sponsorship. This meeting: sponsored by the American Economic Association, Committee on Government Relations Dan Newlon : DC Director Two of us are members (me, Skinner)

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contributions of economists and economics to study of aging

Contributions of Economists and Economics to Study of Aging

Robert A. Moffitt

Johns Hopkins University

May 18, 2011

sponsorship
Sponsorship
  • This meeting: sponsored by the American Economic Association, Committee on Government Relations
  • Dan Newlon: DC Director
  • Two of us are members (me, Skinner)
  • Purpose: to review samples of research conducted by economists on aging and to emphasize the importance of NIA support to the many major contributions of economics
  • Me: I am an observer, not a participant
slide3

Economics of Aging is now a major subfield within economics

Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of senior as well as junior researchers and new Ph.D. dissertations in the area

Many different topics (see below), aided by new data

BSR support has been a major contributor to this development

economics contributions
Economics Contributions

Specific research areas and topics

An organizing framework

Careful attention to causality

Policy focus

Data Collection

Exploration of new areas: behavioral economics, cognition, psychology, neuroeconomics, biomarkers/genomics

i specific research areas
I. Specific Research Areas

Health economics: functioning of the health care system, design and effects of health insurance and financing, comparative effectiveness, technology diffusion, cost analysis and projections

Retirement economics: causes and effects; health-employment nexus and relationship; retirement date, savings, wealth accumulation and assets

Population Aging (Ron Lee)

ii organizing framework
II. Organizing Framework

Economics has a very general model of behavior that allows economic considerations, health factors, and psychology into a coherent whole with explicit causal directions

The model does not require “rational man”

Is an integrative model

Other approaches and disciplines do not have the same comprehensiveness

iii careful attention to causality
III. Careful Attention to Causality

While there are many questions that can, and have been, tested with randomized trials (Newhouse: Rand Health Insurance Experiment; default experiments), most economics research must be observational

Economists have paid more attention to careful modeling of causality than any other observational discipline (Ex: Cutler work on effectiveness of heart attack revascularization; distance to hospital)

iv policy focus
IV. Policy Focus

Much if not most economics has a direct policy focus

Huge literature on the effect of the Social Security retirement program

Similarly large literatures on the effects of Medicare (incl. Part D) Medicaid on various outcomes, including health outcomes (not just retirement); SSDI as well (Autor-Duggan)

Health care reform, health insurance reform: major literatures

v leaders in major data collection efforts
V. Leaders in Major Data Collection Efforts

HRS the leading example

Hugely influential study of retirement but also health assessments, disability; now biomeasures and genomics

Extended to large number of other countries

PSID supplements on health status, disability; linkages to Medicare claims data and cause-of-death data

vi openness to exploration of new approaches
VI. Openness to Exploration of New Approaches

Behavioral economics; study of cognition; neuroeconomics; incorporation of other aspects of psychology; subjective well-being

But, in every case, put into the economists’ organizing framework, the “model” which allows the complex relationships to be given coherence