Posts tagged with "Department of Economics"

Live long and prosper: Moving to the city helps seniors increase their longevity

September 3, 2021

Living longer in your senior years may be all about one thing—location, location, location. A new study finds that moving to a busy urban area can increase longevity among older adults, reports Study Finds.

While many retirees tend to leave big cities for a quieter life and warmer weather, researchers from MIT say heading to many coastal metropolises —such as,New York City, San Francisco, and Miami — actually adds an extra year to their lives.

Specifically, the study finds adults over 65 who move from a metro area in the 10th percentile (in terms of how much they enhance longevity) to an area in the 90th percentile adds 1.1 years to their lives. Currently, the average lifespan for an adult in the United States  is 83.3 years.

“There’s a substantively important causal effect of where you live as an elderly adult on mortality and life expectancy across the United States,” says Amy Finkelstein, a professor in MIT’s Department of Economics in a university release.

While a region’s “health capital”—or the local population’s tendency to be obese, smoke, or suffer from other health problems—plays a major role in health, study authors also looked at the environmental factors of metro areas. Entering the study, the team suspected that the nature of available medical care in urban areas becomes a key factor in how long older adults live. Other possible drivers include climate, pollution, crime, and traffic safety.
“We wanted to separate out the role of people’s prior experiences and behaviors—or health capital—from the role of place or environment,” Finkelstein notes.

Researchers looked at the Medicare records of 6.3 million beneficiaries from 65 to 99 years-old between 1999 and 2014. Around two million of these Americans moved from one U.S. “commuting zone” to another during the study. The rest did not move during that 15-year period.

“The idea is to take two elderly people from a given origin, say, Boston. One moves to low-mortality Minneapolis, one moves to high-mortality Houston. We then compare how long each lives after they move,” Finkelstein explains.

Although different people have different health histories, study authors say

Medicare records include detailed claims data—which enabled the team to account for 27 different illnesses and conditions. These ranged from lung cancer to diabetes to depression. In the end, researchers used the data to create a standard mortality risk model to examine how changing cities later in life leads to either a drop or rise in longevity.

The results show that many urban areas on the East and West Coasts of the United States have a positive impact on longevity for seniors who move there. Some Midwestern cities like Chicago also appear to give seniors a boost.

On the other hand, much of the deep South negatively impacts the lifespans of older adults. This includes states like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and northern Florida. The American Southwest, including areas in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona, also scored poorly in the MIT study.

While the team estimates that “health capital” accounts for about 70% of the differences in longevity around the country, the new findings show that 15% of these differences depend on where you live.

However, Study Finds notes, while some major cities clearly push health in one direction or another, other areas around America are harder to gauge. In some cities, like Charlotte, North Carolina, researchers discovered that moving here has a positive effect on longevity, but residents still have a lower overall life expectancy. Conversely, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, people moving here have a higher overall life expectancy, but the study finds the city has a below-average effect on the longevity.

“Our [hard] evidence is about the role of place,” Finkelstein says. “We know something about Charlotte, North Carolina, makes a difference, but we don’t yet know what.”

“Differences in health care across places are large and potentially important,” Finkelstein concludes. “But there are also differences in pollution, weather, [and] other aspects. … What we need to do now is get inside the black box of ‘the place’ and figure out what it is about them that matters for longevity.”

The study appears in the journal, American Economic Review.

Research contact: @StudyFinds

Bigger isn’t better: Why a smaller engagement ring may signify a longer marriage

September 21, 2018

When you are trying to “size up” a woman’s relationship, don’t calculate in the size of her diamond ring. Recent research shows that couples who spend shrewdly and realistically on their engagement ring and wedding reception are more likely to have long-lasting marriages, according to a report by NBC News.

The ‘“A Diamond Is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales” study—co-authored by Andrew Francis-Tan, a visiting associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and Hugo M. Mialon, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Economics at Emory University— examined the association between wedding spending and marriage duration using data from a survey of over 3,000 “ever-married adults” in the United States.

The researchers said that their goal was to establish whether spending a fortune on a ring and a wedding, (as we’re frequently inclined to do, often to our own regret) impacts the longevity of a marriage.

“Wedding industry advertising has fueled the norm that spending large amounts on the engagement ring and wedding is an indication of commitment or is helpful for a marriage to be successful,” Mialon told NBC News. “In either case, the general message [put out by the wedding industry and eagerly accepted by couples worldwide] is that wedding spending and marriage duration are positively correlated.”

But that’s not the case. In fact, there’s a sweet spot for how much a ring should—or shouldn’t—cost.  Through their research, Francis-Tan and Mialon found that men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring had a higher rate of divorce (of about 1.3 times) than men who spent between $500 and $2,000.

But the pendulum swings the other way, too. Spending less than $500 on an engagement ring was found to be associated with higher divorce rates in the sample of women surveyed.

However, the academics assert that these findings  “[do]not prove that high expenses on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony cause divorce;  only that high expenses on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony are positively correlated with divorce, holding constant a number of demographic and relationship characteristics, including income.

Their overall recommendation: It’s not about the price tag; it’s about what you can afford, NBC News reports. Do not spend your whole bank account on one day in your life, no matter how special. Your focus should be on the long-term health and vitality of your relationship.

“What could explain the observed negative association between wedding expenses and marriage duration? Perhaps those couples who tend to have lavish weddings are simply those couples who tend not to be the best match for each other,” Mialon told NBC.

“On the other hand,” he points out, “it is also possible that having an expensive wedding burdens [a couple] financially in a way that may later strain their marriage”

Research contact:  sppamft@nus.edu.sg