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):Aging, Health Care, Public Economics

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.

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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

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