The Medical Costs of The Young and Old: A Forty Year Perspective

David M. Cutler, Ellen Meara

NBER Working Paper No. 6114
Issued in July 1997
NBER Program(s):   AG   HC   PE

In this paper, we examine the growth in medical care spending by age over the past 40 years. We show that between 1953 and 1987, medical spending increased disproportionately for infants, those under 1 year, and the elderly, those 65 and older. Annual spending growth for infants was 9.8 percent and growth for the elderly was 8.0 percent compared to 4.7 percent for people aged 1-64. Within the infant and the elderly population, excess spending growth was largely driven by more rapid growth of spending at the top of the medical spending distribution. Aggregate changes in outcomes for infants and the elderly are consistent with these changes in spending growth, but we do not present any causal evidence on this point.

download in pdf format
   (567 K)

email paper

A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the December 1997 NBER digest.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Digest by email.

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w6114

Published: The Medical Costs of the Young and Old: A Forty-Year Perspective, David M. Cutler, Ellen Meara. in Frontiers in the Economics of Aging, Wise. 1998

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Cutler and Meara The Medical Costs of the Young and Old: A Forty-Year Perspective
Cutler, Deaton, and Lleras-Muney w11963 The Determinants of Mortality
Cutler and Meara The Concentration of Medical Spending: An Update
Cutler and Meara w8556 Changes in the Age Distribution of Mortality Over the 20th Century
Cutler w5591 Public Policy for Health Care
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us