line decor
line decor



Upcoming Events

Aging Seminar Series / Work in Progress Luncheons / Workshops and Conferences


PGDA Aging Seminar Series

The following "Pop Center Seminars" are co-sponsored by PGDA (list can also be found here).


"Push or Pull: Drivers of Women's Labor Force Participation during India's Economic Boom"

Presented by: Stephan Klasen, Professor of Economics, University of Gottingen, Germany
Date: February 11, 2013
Time: 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.

"Observational Studies Analyzed Like Randomized Trials, and Vice Versa"

Presented by: Miguel Hernan, Professor of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
Date: March 4, 2013
Time: 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.

"Health and Aging in Malawi: Evidence from the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health"

Presented by: Hans Peter Kohler, Frederick J. Warren Professor of Demography, University of Pennsylvania
Date: March 11, 2013
Time: 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.

"Demography of the Future"

Presented by: Herbert L. Smith, Professor of Sociology, and Director, Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania
Date: April 8, 2013
Time: 4:00 - 5:30 p.m



Health Insurance in Nicaragua: A Randomized Evaluation of Enrollment and Effects of Insurance (PDF)

Rebecca Thornton - Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Michigan
Date: February 2, 2009
Time: 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Abstract: Despite the growing interest in the delivery of insurance programs to the uninsured, there is evidence of low uptake of voluntary health insurance among the poor. This paper evaluates the determinants of health insurance enrollment and the effects of having insurance on health care utilization and expenditures in Managua, Nicaragua.  The study varied the costs of health insurance by randomly offering insurance subsidies, information about the insurance, and reductions in convenience costs. In addition, individuals were randomly assigned to sign up for insurance at different locations:
either at the Social Security Institute, or at microfinance institutions. We find that monetary and convenience costs are an important determinant of signing up for health insurance. In contrast, information constraints were not a barrier to enrollment.  In terms of the effects of being insured, after one year, insured individuals switched from using services at private facilities to visiting health facilities covered by the insurance. However, insurance did not increase their overall utilization of services.  Total
out-of-pocket expenditures were reduced when individuals utilized the subsidized insurance, but the average out-of-pocket savings were lower than the equivalent unsubsidized insurance premiums. Lastly, we found very low retention rates after expiration of the subsidy, with less than 10 percent still enrolled in the insurance program after one year and this was correlated to the randomized subsidies offered at baseline.  


Financial Liquidity and Saving: Evidence from 401(k) Loans (PDF) (Paper)

Brigitte Madrian - Aetna Profess or Public Policy and Corporate Management, Harvard Kennedy School
Date: February 23, 2009
Time: 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Abstract: During the past three decades, financial innovations and legislative changes in savings institutions have increased households' ability to tap into illiquid assets. Home equity loans and mortgage refinancing have enabled individuals to extract previously illiquid home equity. Lump sum payout options in defined benefit pension plans to tape into their DC wealth. In this paper, we examine the impact of liquidity on savings outcomes for the specific case of 401(k) loans. Although the popular press and politicians often describe 401(k) loans as a problem, classical economic theory has a more benign view. Such loans can relax liquidiyt constraints and increase household utility. Moreover, loan availability may raise net asset accumulation by making 401(k) participation more appealing: employees who can access their 401(k) assets if they need them may be willing to put more money into an otherwise illiquid 401(k) account. Our research suggests that 401(k) loans are neither a blessing nor a bogeyman. Conditional on borrowing to finance consumption, we show that a 401(k) loan may be a reasonable source of credit in many circumstances. We further show that the net impact of 401(k) loans on asset accumulation is likely to be small (and could be either positive or negative) for a reasonable range of parameter assumptions. Our empirical analysis also suggests that it may be possible to structure the provision of 401(k) loans in ways that reduce their potentital to negatively impact retirement wealth accumulation, as we find that 401(k) loan utilization is responsive to the types of loan features adopted by firms. 401(k) loan utilization is higher in plans that have lower minimum loan amounts and in plans tha tallow employees to take out multiple loans. 401(k) loan utilization is lower in plans that have higher loan interest rates.


Voluntary Compliance, Pollution Levels, and Infant Mortality in Mexico (PDF)

Andrew Foster - Professor of Economics and Community Health, Brown University
Date: March 30, 2009
Time: 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Abstract: Using a combination of satellite based measures of suspended particulates, mortality registration data, and firm-level data on certification, inspections, and fines we examine th effects of Mexico's clean industry program on air quality and infant health. We develop a simple model that endogenizes firm and regulator behavior and establishes that voluntary certification can have both direct and indirect effects on compliance because of retargeting of regulator effort. The evidence suggests that both effects are present and lead to significant reductions in infant mortality due to respiratory causes.


Population-Based Assessment of Cancer Trial Generalizability in the Elderly (PDF)

Elizabeth Lamont - Associate Professor of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School
Date: April 13, 2009
Time: 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Abstract: Despite the fact that Medicare spends millions of dollars annually on chemotherapy for elderly cancer patients, surprisingly little is known about the extent to which cancer chemotherapies help or harm such elderly patients. This unsettling paradox is the direct result of the well-described under-enrollment of elderly on the clinical trials of chemotherapy. Through this empirical research that integrates both clinical trial and observational data sources and methods, we seek to narrow this critical gap in clinical knowledge by studying the survivaloutcomes of both unselected elderly Medicare beneficiaries and their carefully chosen clinical trial counterparts.  In Aim 1, we describe survival for stage-specific cohorts of elderly Medicare patients with breast, colorectal, lung, and pancreas cancer (n=100,000) following first-line treatment with one of several "standard" chemotherapies.  In Aim 2, we describe the survival of patients from Aim 1 relative to untreated, but otherwise matched similar elderly Medicare patients with cancer (n=100,000) using propensity score methods.  In Aim 3, we compare attributes of the cohorts of population elderly Medicare patients who were treated in Aim 1 to those of similarly treated clinical trial elderly Medicare patients.  To do this, we create a new data set termed the CALGB-CMS data that relies on linkage (at the individual patient level) of Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) clinical trial data pertaining to elderly trial enrollees (n=4,000), to their contemporaneous observational Medicare data and other extant administrative data sources in a manner that parallels the SEER-Medicare data structure.  After appending SEER-Medicare observational data to the CALGB-CMS data, we compare SEER-Medicare observational and CALGB-CMS clinical trial patients according to attributes of patients (e.g., demographics, comorbidity) and providers (e.g., board certification, years in practice).  In Aim 4, we compare the survival outcomes of the population-treated elderly SEER-Medicare patients to those of the clinical trial-treated elderly CALGB-CMS patients following receipt of the same standard chemotherapy regimens.  We estimate survival following therapy according to patient type and use multi-level approaches to identify and quantify salient patient and provider determinants of any observed differences in survival outcomes between population-treated and clinical trial-treated patients.  Through the proposed research, we will better understand the expected survival of population-treated elderly Medicare patients following the standard chemotherapy regimens whose efficacies were established in clinical trial patients. The work will help practicing oncologists in their care of elderly patients and set the stage for further study of the survival benefits of chemotherapy in the elderly.


The Size of Health Selection Effects (PDF) (Paper)

Alberto Palloni - Board of Trustees Professor of Sociology, Northwestern University
Date: POSTPONED until the Fall
Time: 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Abstract: The association between adult socioeconomic status and health status has been alternately attributed to the material effects of economic status, ties between labor productivity and health and cumulative effects of early life socioeconomic status. This paper considers the lasting effects of early cihld health for adult socioeconomic gradients in health status. We analyze longitudinal data with measures of developmental, health and socioeconomic outcomes over the life cycle and show how poor health early in life correlates with lower schooling outcomes, lower adult occupational status and poor adult health. We then examine the cumulative effects of early child health for trajectories of both socioeconomic attainment and health accumulation with set of counterfactual experiments of health effects over the life cycle. The results show that early child health effects contribute little to the socioeconomic gradient in health that is observed in adulthood.


Legislative Seniority and its Generalization (PDF)

Kenneth Shepsle - George D. Markham Professor of Government, Harvard University
Abhinay Muthoo - Professor and Head, Department of Economics, University of Warwick
Date: May 11, 2009
Time: 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Abstract: Among the features that strucutre the organization of group affairs, seniority in one form or another is ubiquitous. In some settings the most senior members enjoy all there is to enjoy. In other settings the views of seniors are respected, sometimes politely deferred to, but rarely have more impact than those of others in the group. In most settings, however, seniority is connected to influence but is not absolutely decisive. Even the most powerful senior leaders in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century U.S. House of Representatives -- Speaker Thomas Brackett ("Czar") Reed and Joseph Gurney ("Boss") Cannon - had to keep their minions happy. In short, seniority is ubiquitous, but its effects and consequences may vary from the extraordinary to the benign.

The present paper builds on the model of seniority found in the work of McKelvy and Riezman. Described in section 3, their seniors are any legislators who served in the immediately preceding legislative term; juniors are those newly elected. The full history of seniors is neither used nor preserved in their seniority designation; we only know that they served in the previous term. Our own analysis, developed in section 4, generalizes this by using more of the ordinal information available. We call this generalization of McKelvey-Riezman cut-off seniority because it is governed by a cut-off rule, namely if a legislator has served x or more previous continuous terms then he or she is senior, whereas those having served fewer than x terms are junior. (For McKelvy and Riezman, x=1.) Seniority is still categorical, but it is based on ordinal information about legislative service. We then ask what level of seniority would a self-governing group of legislators choose to employ in its group's operations (endogenous seniority).



FALL 2008

Disempowered by Whom? Inlaws' Influence on Decision Making in Indian Families (PDF)

Reeve Vanneman -
Professor of Sociology, University of Maryland
September 15, 2008
4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Abstract: The now-frequent use of decision-making questions in household surveys has greatly enhanced our understanding of intra-household power relations. While much of the research interest in these questions has focused on the relative influence of the husband or the wife in household decision-making, in developing societies where extended families are common, senior men and women in the household often have important voices. Our analysis disentangles the extent to which a woman is being disempowered by her husband versus others (usually her in-laws) in her household. We use data from a new 41,554 household survey, the India Human Development Survey 2005, to examine how a woman's lack of power is a function of both gender and generation. Age, a senior position in the extended family, and landlessness are all related to more decision-making power for both the wife and her husband. So, young women in landed households are disempowered more by their inlaws than by their husbands. Labor force participation and endogamy, on the other hand, strengthen her say in decision-making relative to both her husband and her senior in-laws. By ignoring the full dynamics of power distributions within a family, we may be conflating inequalities of gender with those of generation and thereby mis-specifying our models of empowerment.


Sobering Up: The Impact of the 1985-1988 Russian Anti-Alcohol Campaign on Child Health (PDF)

Andrea Balan-Cohen - Assistant Professor of Economics, Tufts University
Date:  October 27, 2008
Time:  4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Abstract: This paper estimates the impact of parental alcohol consumption on child health by taking advantage of a unique shock to alcohol supply: the 1985 to 1988 alcohol prohibition campaign in Russia. This campaign was temporally short lived, and resulted in large amounts of exogenous geographic variation in its intensity and effectiveness. I construct a new data set that combines the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey with regional data on alcohol consumption. Using both a differences-in-differences approach, as well as instrumental variables methods, I find significant improvements in child height, immunization rates, and chronic conditions among children born during prohibition who also lived in regions with effective anti-alcohol campaigns. This confirms the effect of investments during a child’s fetal period and first two years of life on long-term health measures,and demonstrates a potential positive effect of suppressing parental access to alcohol. Furthermore, evidence from vaccination rates suggests that the positive effect of prohibition on child health occurred through improvements in parental time, rather than income resources.


Do Family Planning Programs Promote Development?: Evidence from a Long Term Social Experiment in Matlab, Bangladesh, 1977-1996 (PDF)

Paul Schultz - Malcolm K. Brachman Professor Emeritus of Economics, Yale University
Date: November 10, 2008
Time: 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Abstract: Survey and census data from 141 villages in Matlab district of Bangladesh from 1974 to 1996 are analyzed, during which half of the villages received from 1977 to 1996 a social experiment centered on home visits every other week from a family planning and maternal-child health field worker. Lifetime fertility and surviving children are about 16 percent lower from 1982 to 1996 in the program villages compared with the control villages, though child-women ratios are no different in 1974. In addition to fertility, various family outcomes are better in program than in control villages in 1996, such as women's BMI (i.e. health), women's monthly earnings, their household assets, and intergenerational investments in human capital in the form of sons's and daughter's survival, daughter's nutrition, and son's schooling. Moderating village population growth by the program is not associated with greater wages or paid employment of young women and men, or older men, whereas the monthly earnings of older women who presumably avoided unwanted childbearing are one-third larger, and household assets per adult are one fourth larger, and the household's portfolio is systematically larger for assets that rely least on child labor and are expected to substitute for the life cycle contribution provided by children to parent consumption and retirement requirements.


Demographic change, Human Capital, and the Demand for Housing. British Evidence (PDF)

Thies Lindenthal - Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Economics, Maastricht University
Date: December 8, 2008
Time: 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Abstract: The paper aims to investigate how demographics determine the amount and the quality of housing services demanded, based on a very detailed 2001 cross-section of English households. It refines the existing methodology by distinguishing between life cycle variables that are expected to change with age for each household, and cohort variables that are determined by the household’s birth-cohort and not by age. The paper’s key results are that housing demand is mainly driven by human capital and that is does not decline with age. A scenario analysis with different population projections shows that in case of stagnating household numbers total demand can still increase as the population grows older. These findings are relevant to other European countries that already experience population shrinkage at an unprecedented magnitude.







© The Program on the Global Demography of Aging • Site Design by Kay Fabella