Subjective life expectancy as a predictor of mortality: evidence from the NIDI work and retirement panel

Hanna van Solinge, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Kène Henkens, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

Background: An extensive literature has demonstrated that self-ratings of health predict mortality, even after controlling for more objective measures of health, health habits and socio-demographic characteristics. We examine the role of a related concept: subjective life expectancy, in predicting mortality. Objective: To assess whether subjective life expectancy predicts mortality after controlling for measures of health, self-rated health, parental longevity and socio-demographic characteristics. Methods: Using data from the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) Work and Retirement Panel, Cox proportional hazard models were estimated to assess whether subjective life expectancy predicts mortality after adjusting for self-rated health and several potential confounders that might otherwise explain this relationship. The sample included 1.731 persons ( 1.289 men and 442 women) who were aged 50-64 at baseline. During the 10 years of follow-up 5,7% (n=73) of the men and 4,5% of the women (n=20) died. Results: subjective life expectancy (p<0.001) predicted mortality, even when several subjective and objective health measures were included in the model. Conclusion: Our results suggest that, although subjective life expectancy and self-rated health may be conceptually related, they have independent empirical effect on mortality.

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Presented in Session 28: Mortality and longevity