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The Shock of Falling Among Older Americans

NBER 2017.06.21
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Direct medical costs associated with falls have been shown to be $34 billion in 2013, an underestimate since full costs are not factored in. Using the 1998-2012 waves of the Health and Retirement Study and several econometric methods to address the endogeneity of falls, this study seeks to answer the question of how much worse physical and mental health outcomes are for individuals who fall compared to their steadier counterparts. Results across various specifications suggest that falling leads to lower activities of daily living, more depression, and more psychological problems. It leads to greater probabilities of being in poor health, having heart problems, and having a stroke. These results survive several robustness checks.

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