Center for Global Demography of Aging

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Principal Investigator:
David Bloom, Chair, Department of Global Health and Population and Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography

Department of Global Health and Population


Dates of Research:
September 30, 2004 — June 30, 2009


The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) was initiated in the U.S. nearly two decades ago to provide longitudinal data for researchers, policy analysts, and program planners making policy decisions related to labor supply and savings behavior, the demand for health and life insurance, and social and economic well being of the elderly and their families. The UK subsequently undertook a study that closely emulated the HRS, followed shortly thereafter by 14 other European countries, with several other countries elsewhere in the world joining the global HRS network even more recently. The HRS are collectively designed to facilitate direct and close comparisons related to the health and retirement behavior of relatively old populations in different countries. The proposed project aims to take steps to add India to this growing list of countries. We recognize that there are many important scientific questions related to health, retirement, and population aging in all countries, but we believe India’s socio and economic characteristics merit special attention. India is the world’s second most populous country and has ever-increasing economic clout globally, giving it unique international importance. Further, an Indian HRS would be of unusual scientific interest. For example, unlike most other HRS countries, India’s population is relatively impoverished, primarily rural, substantially illiterate, predominantly informally employed, and is privately responsible for a high share of national health expenditures (75%). Finally, India is entering an era of rapid aging. The percentage of individuals over the age of 50 is projected to grow at a 2.7% compound annual growth rate over the next 45 years, making an understanding of health, retirement, and population aging a matter of critical policy importance.