Current Awareness in Aging Research (CAAR) Report #115--December 20, 2001


CAAR (Current Awareness in Aging Research) is a weekly email report produced by the Center for Demography of Health and Aging at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that helps researchers keep up to date with the latest developments in the field. For more information, including an archive of back issues and subscription information see:

PLEASE NOTE: There will be no CAAR Report next week. The next CAAR Report
will be sent out on January 3rd. Have a pleasant and safe holiday season.

I. Data:

1. ICPSR: On December 14 the Inter-University Consortium for Social and Political Research at the University of Michigan released 11 new studies. Of possible interest to researchers in aging is:


Note: This is a temporary address. ICPSR studies can always be found at:

Search on title or study number.

2. HRS: The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research Health and Retirement Survey has announced "HRS 1998 Final Core Data Release (Version 1)." For more information see:

II. Reports and articles:

3. DHHS OIG OIE REPORT: "The Physician's Role in Medicare Home Health 2001," (US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Evaluations and Inspections OEI-02-00-00620, December 2001, .pdf format, 44p.).

Report Summary:

Based on interviews with physicians and CMS' claims data, this study found that physicians are currently playing a key role in initiating, certifying, and monitoring the care for Medicare home health beneficiaries. However, they are doing so despite limited knowledge of Medicare home health rules as well as discomfort with CMS' expectations. At present, the availability of reimbursement for their oversight role does not seem to have significant impact on physicians who care for Medicare home health patients. In order to address physician concerns and improve the Medicare home health services, we recommended that CMS establish a working group of the CMS' Physician Regulations Issues Team to improve communication and to consider modifying the physician home health oversight role.


4. CMS: "Average trust fund interest rates for periods of 1 to 12 months duration ending July 2001 through June 2002," (US Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary, HTML and .csv [comma separated values] format).


A. "Americas Oldest Worker Recognized for a Century of Accomplishments by Assistant Secretary Carbonell," (US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging, December 2001). On December 11, 2001, the Administration on Aging held a ceremony to recognize Harold Fisher. Mr. Fisher, a practicing architect, recently turned 100 years old.

B. "Older Americans Act Listening Session, 12/4/2001," (US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging, PowerPoint and HTML format, December 2001). To view the HTML format go to:

To view the PowerPoint presentation go to:

Click on "PowerPoint Presentation".

6. _PNAS_ ARTICLE ABSTRACT: Note: Electronic full-text of these articles may be available. Check with your organization's library.

A. "Delayed-onset ataxia in mice lacking alpha -tocopherol transfer protein: Model for neuronal degeneration caused by chronic oxidative stress," by Takanori Yokota, Keiji Igarashi, Toshiki Uchihara, Kou-ichi Jishage, Hiroshi Tomita, Akira Inaba, Yi Li, Makoto Arita, Hiroshi Suzuki, Hidehiro Mizusawa, and Hiroyuki Arai (_Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences_, Vol. 98, No. 26, December 18, 2001, .pdf and HTML format, p. 15185-15190).

B. "BID mediates neuronal cell death after oxygen/ glucose deprivation and focal cerebral ischemia," by Nikolaus Plesnila, Sandra Zinkel, Dean A. Le, Sepideh Amin-Hanjani, Yonqin Wu, Jianhua Qiu, Alberto Chiarugi, Sunu S. Thomas, Daniel S. Kohane, Stanley J. Korsmeyer, and Michael A. Moskowitz (_Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences_, Vol. 98, No. 26, December 18, 2001, .pdf and HTML format, p. 15318-15323).

C. "Explaining mortality rate plateaus," by Joshua S. Weitz and Hunter B. Fraser (_Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences_, Vol. 98, No. 26, December 18, 2001, .pdf and HTML format, p. 15383-15386).


A. "Randomised comparison of three methods of administering a screening questionnaire to elderly people: findings from the MRC trial of the assessment and management of older people in the community," by Liam Smeeth, Astrid E. Fletcher, Susan Stirling, Maria Nunes, Elizabeth Breeze, Edmond Ng, Christopher J. Bulpitt, and Dee Jones (_British Medical Journal Primary Care_, Vol 323, No. 7326, December 15, 2001, .pdf and HTML format, p. 1403-1407).

B. "'Existential' suffering not a justification for euthanasia," by Tony Sheldon (British Medical Journal News_, Vol 323, No. 7326, December 15, 2001, .pdf and HTML format, p. 1384).

C. "European countries face similar problems of demographic ageing and higher patient expectations," by Rory Watson (British Medical Journal News_, Vol 323, No. 7326, December 15, 2001, HTML format, p. 1384).

D. "Quality of care for people with dementia," by Joan Scott, Chris Edwards, Chris Fox, Clive Bowman, and Graham Stokes (British Medical Journal Letters_, Vol 323, No. 7326, December 15, 2001, HTML format, p. 1427).

8. _JAMA_ ARTICLE ABSTRACT: Note: Electronic full-text of this article may be available. Check with your organization's library.

"Negotiating Cross-Cultural Issues at the End of Life," by Marjorie Kagawa-Singer and Leslie J. Blackhall (_Journal of the American Medical Association_, Vol. 286, No. 23, December 23, 2001, .pdf and HTML format, p. 2993-3001).

9. _MEDSCAPE_ ARTICLE: Note: Medscape requires free registration before providing articles. "Diagnosis and Management of Myocardial Ischemia (Angina) in the Elderly Patient," by Donald D. Tresch and Haritha R. Alla (_The American Journal of Geriatric Cardiology via Medscape_, Vol. 10, No. 6, November/December 2001, HTML format, 337-344).


10. _DEMOGRAPHIC RESEARCH_ ARTICLE: Note: _Demographic Resarch_ is "a free, expedited, peer-reviewed journal of the population sciences published by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. "Life expectancy in two Caucasian countries. How much due to overestimated population?" by Vladimir Shkolnikov, Evgueni Andreev, Irina Badurashvili, France Mesle, Jacques Vallin, and Ruben Yeganyan (_Demographic Research_ Vol. 5 Article 7, December 2001, .pdf format, p. 215-244).


This study is a first attempt to produce reliable estimates of mortality in Georgia and Armenia in the 1990s. Official statistics registered a decrease in mortality over the 1990s in spite of local wars, mass flows of refugees, and severe economic hardships faced by populations. According to official statistics, in 1999-2000 population size was about 5.4 millions in Georgia and about 3.8 millions in Armenia. Non-official estimates based on migration surveys are much lower: 4.0-4.1 millions and 3.0 millions, respectively. This huge difference is mostly due to unregistered out-migration. In addition to corrections in population, corrections are made for under-registration of deaths. Hospital statistics is used for infant deaths and the Coale-Demeny model life tables are used for ages above 70. In Georgia, the introduction of payment for the declaration of vital events resulted in a greater under-registration of deaths than in Armenia. Modified populations, mortality and life expectancy values are produced for the 1990s. In 1999 life expectancy was 68.6 and 75.6 for males and females in Georgia and 68.7 and 75.4 for males and females in Armenia. These figures are lower than the official estimates by 5.2 and 5.6 years for males and females in Georgia and by 3.8 and 1.7 years for males and females in Armenia. After corrections Caucasian male life expectancy is higher than in other post-Soviet countries.

Click on PDF icon for full text.

_Demographic Research_:


A. "Pining away for pensions," by Leonard Wiener (US News and World Report, December 24, 2001).

B. "The 401(k) Stumbles," by Paul J. Lim and Matthew Benjamin (US News and World Report, December 24, 2001).

12. AARP PERIODICAL: Selected articles are available electronically from the January/February 2002 issue of AARP's _Modern Maturity_.

III. Working Papers:

13. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN CENTER FOR DEMOGRAPHY AND ECOLOGY: "As We Age: The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, 1957-2001," by William H. Sewell, Robert M. Hauser, Kristen Springer, Taissa S. Hauser (University of Wisconsin Center for Demography and Ecology Working Paper No. 2001-09, 2001, .pdf format, 171p.).


The authors review the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) across its history of more than 40 years. The WLS began as a study of post-secondary aspirations and educational attainment among Wisconsin high school graduates of 1957, but it has become a major, long-term study of the life-course and aging. The most visible contributions of the WLS to date have been theories and models of the process of stratification. We review those findings and criticisms of them, especially the claim that we ignore social structures and their effects. These criticisms have often been vague or have lacked empirical support. In research on stratification, the concept of social structure has been more a symbolic goal than a guide to theory and research. This review brings readers up to date with the full range of work on the project and an array of future prospects as of 2002, the year in which the WLS begins its second phase of data collection as a study of aging. A full bibliography of WLS publications is appended.

14. _NBER_:

A. "Labor Market Effects of Population Aging," by Axel Boersch-Supan (National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 8640, December 2001, .pdf format, 38p.).


This paper analyzes effects of population aging on the labor market and determines their broad implications for public policy. It takes Germany as an example, but it equally applies to the other large economies in Continental Europe. The paper argues that, alongside the amply discussed, demographically-determined increase in the contribution and tax burden which is responsible for the ever widening gap between gross and disposable earnings, two other important areas of policy deserve greater attention. First, it is unlikely that the decline in the relative size of the economically active population will be offset by higher capital intensity. Labor productivity will need to increase over and above this mechanism in order to compensate for the impact of population aging on domestic production. Hence, we will need more education and training to speed up human capital formation. Second, the shift in the age structure will also change the structure of demand for goods. This, in turn, will have large effects on the pattern of employment across different sectors of the economy and will require a substantial increase in labor mobility in order to accommodate these structural changes.

Click on "PDF" or submit your email address at the bottom of the abstract for full text.

B. "For Better or For Worse: Default Effects and 401(k) Savings Behavior," by James J. Choi, David Laibson, Brigitte C. Madrian, Andrew Metrick (National Bureau of Economic Research W8651, December 2001, .pdf format, 49p.).


In the last several years, many employers have decided to automatically enroll their new employees in the company 401(k) plan. Using several years of administrative data from three large firms, we analyze the impact of automatic enrollment on 401(k) participation rates, savings behavior, and asset accumulation. We find that although employees can opt out of the 401(k) plan, few choose to do so. As a result, automatic enrollment has a dramatic impact on retirement savings behavior: 401(k) participation rates at all three firms exceed 85%, but participants tend to anchor at a low default savings rate and in a conservative default investment vehicle. We find that initially, about 80% of participants accept both the default savings rate (2% or 3% for our three companies) and the default investment fund (a stable value or money market fund). Even after three years, half of the plan participants subject to automatic enrollment continue to contribute at the default rate and invest their contributions exclusively in the default fund. The effects of automatic enrollment on asset accumulation are not straightforward. While higher participation rates promote wealth accumulation, the low default savings rate and the conservative default investment fund undercut accumulation. In our sample, these two effects are roughly offsetting on average. However, automatic enrollment does increase saving in the lower tail of the savings distribution by dramatically reducing the fraction of employees who do not participate in the 401(k) plan.

Click on "PDF" or submit your email address at the bottom of the page for full text.

C. "Defined Contribution Pensions: Plan Rules, Participant Decisions, and the Path of Least Resistance," by James J. Choi, David Laibson, and Brigitte C. Madrian (National Bureau of Economic Research W8655, December 2001, .pdf format, 56p.).


We assess the impact on savings behavior of several different 401(k) plan features, including automatic enrollment, automatic cash distributions, employer matching provisions, eligibility requirements, investment options, and financial education. We also present new survey evidence on individual savings adequacy. Many of our conclusions are based on an analysis of micro-level administrative data on the 401(k) savings behavior of employees in several large corporations that implemented changes in their 401(k) plan design. Our analysis identifies a key behavioral principle that should partially guide the design of 401(k) plans: employees often follow 'the path of least resistance.' For better or for worse, plan administrators can manipulate the path of least resistance to powerfully influence the savings and investment choices of their employees.

Click on "PDF" or submit your email address at the bottom of the abstract

15. INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR APPLIED SYSTEMS ANALYSIS (IIASA): "Microsimulation Modeling of Population, Economic Growth, and Social Security Systems," by Martin Spielauer (_IIASA_, Report 01-026, July 2001, 30p.).


This paper is a first step in trying to develop a modeling and simulation framework that allows to incorporate the strengths of microsimulation in economic growth modeling in the context of demographic change. This is mainly done by restating and programming an existing neoclassical macroeconomic growth model in terms of microsimulation, which allows to explore and demonstrate some of the features microsimulation techniques can possibly "add" to this kind of modeling. The starting point of the analysis is the IIASA "Social Security Forecasting and Simulation Model", developed by the IIASA Social Security Reform (SSR) Project as described in MacKellar et al. (2000). This model was developed to study the influence of pension systems on the economy mainly by investigating long-run capital accumulation and economic growth as functions of the evolving age distribution of the population and the nature of pension schemes. Differently to most economic growth models, the IIASA macro-model explicitly introduces "realistic demography" by disaggregating the household sector (and all model outputs) by age cohorts. This kind of economic modeling is incorporated in a dynamic microsimulation framework by further disaggregation of the cohorts to the individual micro-level. Allowing for heterogeneous individual agents, economic and demographic behavior can be modeled taking into account a wide set of individual and household characteristics. As part of this research a "microSSR" software is developed, both as a tool for the testing of different behavioral theories and as a projection and forecasting tool.

IV. Journal Tables of Contents (check your library for availability):

16. Age and Ageing (Vol. 30, No. 6, November 1, 2001). Note: Electronic full-text may be available. Check with your organization's library.

17. American Journal of Epidemology (Vol. 154, No. 12, December 15, 2001). Note: Full electronic text (HTML and .pdf format) may be available at the site. Check your organization's library.

18. INGENTA Tables of Contents: INGENTA provides fee based document delivery services for selected journals.

A. Point your browser to:

B. click on "Search Options"
C. Type the Journal Name in the "Publication title" search box and click the radio button "Words in Title"
D. View the table of contents for the issue noted.

American Journal of Public Health (Vol. 91, No. 12, December 1, 2001). Note 1: Full electronic text may be available at the site. Check your organization's library. Note 2: Full electronic text of this journal is available in the ProQuest Research Library and EbscoHost Academic Search Elite databases. Check your library for the availability of these databases and this issue.

Health and Social Work (Vol. 26, No. 4, 2001). Note: Full electronic text of this journal is available in the ProQuest Research Library. Check your library for availability of this database and issue.

Omega (Vol. 43, No. 1, 2001).

19. AMEDEO MEDICAL LITERATURE: Note: "AMEDEO has been created to serve the needs of healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, administrators, other members of the health professions, and patients and their friends. They can easily access timely, relevant information within their respective fields... All AMEDEO services are free of charge. This policy was made possible thanks to generous unrestricted educational grants provided by AMGEN, Berlex, Eisai, Glaxo Wellcome, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, and Schering AG."

A. Osteoporosis: Literature for the week of December 18, 2001:

B. Alzheimer's Disease: Literature for the week of December 18, 2001:

C. Parkinson's Disease: Literature for the week of December 18, 2001:

AMADEO Literature Guide:


V. Conferences:

20. AOA: "Special invitation to the state and local agencies involved in the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) to present Idea/Program Exchanges or Roundtable Discussion sessions at the NCOA/ASA 2002 Joint Conference" (to be held April 4-7 in Denver). "Idea/Program Exchanges cover a variety of programs, projects and ideas. They are presented simultaneously at different tables in one room and are informal and conversational, a format that allows contact with many more people than could attend a workshop. Roundtables entail an open discussion of a topic of current interest. The facilitator 'sets the stage' with a brief review of issues, which are then discussed by the entire group."

For more information about the conference go to:

VI. Legislation Information Updates:


A. "Saving our Seniors: Preventing Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation," a hearing held June 14, 2001 (US Senate Serial Publication No. 107-105, 2001, ASCII text and .pdf format, 110p.).

B. "The High Cost of Prescription Drugs," a hearing held August 27, 2001 (US Senate Serial Publication No. 107-146, 2001, ASCII text and .pdf format, 83p.).

C. "Medicare Enforcement Actions: The Federal Government's Anti-Aging Efforts," a hearing July 26, 2001 (US Senate Serial Publication No. 107-123, 2001, ASCII text and .pdf format, 331p.).

D. "Our Greatest Generation: Continuing a Lifetime of Service" a hearing held August 9, 2001 (US Senate Serial Publication No. 107-145, 2001, ASCII
text and .pdf format, 53p.).

Scroll to or "find in page" "107-105", "107-146", "107-123", or "107-145" (without the quotes).

22. US SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION: "Hearing on the Collapse of Enron Corporation," a hearing held December 18, 2001 (US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, .pdf format).

Click on the name of the individual to view the statements they submitted to the Committee.




Charlie Fiss
Information Manager
Center for Demography and Ecology and
Center for Demography of Health and Aging
Rm. 4470A Social Science Bldg
1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
Phone: (608) 265-9240
Fax: (608) 262-8400