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Americans less healthy than English, but live as long or longer, study finds
Date:11/3/2010

Older Americans are less healthy than their English counterparts, but they live as long or even longer than their English peers, according to a new study by researchers from the RAND Corporation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London.

Researchers found that while Americans aged 55 to 64 have higher rates of chronic diseases than their peers in England, they died at about the same rate. And Americans age 65 and older -- while still sicker than their English peers -- had a lower death rate than similar people in England, according to findings published in the journal Demography.

The paper was co-authored by James Banks and Alastair Muriel of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and James P. Smith, distinguished chair in labor markets and demographic studies at RAND.

"If you get sick at older ages, you will die sooner in England than in the United States," Smith said. "It appears that at least in terms of survival at older ages with chronic disease, the medical system in the United States may be better than the system in England."

The study expands upon an earlier analysis by Banks and Smith that found that Americans aged 55 to 64 suffered from diseases such as diabetes at rates up to twice those seen among similarly aged people in England. The trend was observed across all socioeconomic groups.

Researchers analyzed information from two comparable surveys of people age 50 and over in the United States and England -- the Health and Retirement Survey and the English Longitudinal Survey of Ageing -- funded by the National Institute on Aging in the United States.

In the new study, researchers examined the prevalence of illness among those 55 to 64 and 70 to 80. They also looked for the first time at the onset of new illnesses in those age groups in the United States and England during the years spanning 2002 to 2006. Finally, researchers examined trends in death rates in each country.

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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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