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Consumption and Differential Mortality
Michael Hurd and Susann Rohwedder
WP 2011-254

It is well-established that differential mortality according to wealth or income introduces bias into age profiles of these variables when estimated on cross-sectional or synthetic cohort data.  However, little is known about whether this association is also found with consumption, and if so, how strong this association is.  In this paper we use panel data on total household spending from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and its supplemental study, the Consumption and Activities Mail Survey (CAMS), to estimate differences in consumption by survival status to the next survey wave. We quantify the bias in age profiles of consumption that results from differential mortality when estimating the age profiles on cross-sectional data or on synthetic cohort data.  We find that the bias is smaller than that found for wealth or income.

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