University of Chicago and NORC
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NBER Working Papers and Publications
|July 2017||The Methuselah Effect: The Pernicious Impact of Unreported Deaths on Old Age Mortality Estimates|
with Dan A. Black, Seth G. Sanders, Lynne Steuerle Schofield, Lowell J. Taylor: w23574
We examine inferences about old age mortality that arise when researchers use survey data matched to death records. We show that even small rates of failure to match respondents can lead to substantial bias in the measurement of mortality rates at older ages. This type of measurement error is consequential for three strands in the demographic literature: (1) the deceleration in mortality rates at old ages, (2) the black-white mortality crossover, and (3) the relatively low rate of old age mortality among Hispanics—often called the “Hispanic paradox.” Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Older Men (NLS-OM) matched to death records in both the U.S. Vital Statistics system and the Social Security Death Index, we demonstrate that even small rates of missing mortality matching plausibly l...