The unobserved pattern of material hardship and health among older Americans

from Journal of Health Economics at on February 28, 2019 at 10:43AM

Publication date: Available online 28 February 2019

Source: Journal of Health Economics

Author(s): Paolo Li Donni


This paper investigates the relationship between self-reported health and material hardship among older Americans. Differently from income-based measures, material hardship provides a more specific description of the concrete adversities faced by the elderly. We have used the last six waves of the Health and Retirement Study to explore the relative contributions of state dependence, unobserved heterogeneity and time-specific shocks on reporting poor health, experiencing food insecurity and medication cutbacks. We have used a Latent Markov model to estimate a multivariate non-linear system of equations for panel data allowing time-varying unobserved heterogeneity. Our results reveal a high state dependence of both health and material hardship conditions. Estimated trajectories reveal that pathways of material hardship are associated differently with health. Material hardship is also spread across its dimensions.