Current Awareness in Aging Research (CAAR) Report #181--April 10, 2003


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:


I. Data:

1. MEPS:

A. "MEPS HC-047: 1997-2000 Person Round Plan Files" (US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, April 2003, data in compressed ASCII and SAS transport format, documentation in HTML and .pdf format, SAS programming statements in ASCII format). "This MEPS public use release is one in a series of data releases drawn from the 1997-2000 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) Household Component (HC). This release contains four Person Round Plan (PRPL) files, one for each year 1997 through 2000. Each of the PRPL files contains records for persons insured through establishments providing hospital/physician, medigap, dental, vision, prescription medication, or long-term care coverage and includes variables pertaining to managed care and satisfaction with plan coverage. These are designed to facilitate research on the sometimes complex and dynamic relationships between consumers and their private insurance. ...The PRPL files are not person-level files and linking a PRPL file to a MEPS full year person-level file (e.g., HC-038 for year 2000) requires users making analytic decisions based on understanding the complexity of the PRPL file."

B. "MEPS HC-042: 1997 Supplemental Public Use File" (US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, April 2003, data in compressed ASCII and SAS transport format, documentation in HTML and .pdf format, SAS programming statements in ASCII format). "This data release, MEPS HC-042, is intended to supplement MEPS variables previously released for 1997, and contains two data files. File 1 of HC-042 is a person-level file, containing health insurance, disability, access to care, language of interview, long-term care, alternative care, preventive care and child care arrangement variables. In order to use these variables, this file should be linked to the 1997 Consolidated Full-year Use and Expenditure File (HC-020) which contains all previously released 1997 person level data including demographic and socio-economic information. Please refer to the HC-020 documentation for further information. File 2 of HC-042 is an event-level file, containing a variable (SEETLKPV) provided to supplement the variables in the 1997 event-level Outpatient Department Visits File (HC-016F). Please refer to the HC-016F documentation for further information.

2. HRS/AHEAD: HRS/AHEAD Tracker File Release (Version 3.1) (University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, Health and Retirement Study/Study of Assets and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old, April 2003).

Click on "Data" for access procedures to acquire data.

3. ROPER CENTER GSS: The Roper Center at the University of Connecticut has released the latest version of the General Social Survey (1972-2002). For more information, including ordering information, see:


II. Reports and articles:

4. GAO REPORT: "Social Security Reform: Information on Using a Voluntary Approach to Individual Accounts" (US General Accounting Office GAO-03-309, March 2003, .pdf format, 65p.).

Note: This is a temporary address. GAO reports are always be available at:

5. AOA NEWSLETTER: "AoA eNews," (Administration on Aging, Vol. 1, No. 2, April 2003, .pdf and Microsoft Word format, 8p.). "This monthly e-newsletter is dedicated to sharing information of importance with the State and Area Agencies on Aging, members of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, grantees, tribal organizations, and service providers."

Click on April Newsletter for full text.

6. NCHS REPORT: "2001 National Hospital Discharge Survey," by Margaret J. Hall and Carol J. DeFrancis (US National Center for Health Statistics, Vital and Health Statistics No. 322, April 2003, .pdf format, 18p.).

Click on "View/download PDF" for full text.

7. DHHS OIG REPORT: "Performance Data for the Senior Medicare Patrol Projects: March 2003 Performance Report" (US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General OEI-02-03-00120, March 2003, .pdf format, 9p.).


As of December 31, 2002, there are 54 Senior Medicare Patrol Projects operating. Additionally, two projects --Arkansas Seniors Organized for Progress and Texas-Baylor University --are no longer in operation as of June 30, 2002. Since the inception of the first projects in 1997, a total of 34,700 volunteers have been trained to detect Medicare fraud, waste, and abuse. In-turn, these volunteers have conducted 200,495 training sessions in which almost 1.1 million Medicare beneficiaries were educated. Once educated, these beneficiaries reported 23,142 complaints, of which 5,332 were referred for follow-up. Investigative agencies took action on 2,312 of these referrals. In total, closed investigations have resulted in the recoupment of $3,679,644 in Medicare funds and, reportedly, $77,446,583 to other payors.

8. COMMONWEALTH FUND ISSUE BRIEF: "State Medicaid Prescription Drug Expenditures for Medicare-Medicaid Dual Eligibles," by Stacy Berg Dale and James M. Verdier (Commonwealth Fund, April 2003, .pdf format, 12p.).

Full Report:

Press Release:

9. ASSOCIATION OF BRITISH INSURERS REPORT: "Adequacy, affordability and incentives: a better future for state pensions," (Association of British Insurers, March 2003, .pdf format, 26p.).,_affordability_and_incentives_-_final_version.pdf

More information on ABI:

10. AUSTRALIAN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND AGEING NEWS RELEASE: "8624 New Aged Care Places For Older Australians" (Apr. 3, 2003).

11. _BMJ_ EDITORIAL: "Treatment of raised intraocular pressure and prevention of glaucoma," by R. Wormald (_British Medical Journal_, Vol. 326, No. 7392, Apr. 5, 2003, HTML and .pdf format, p. 723-724).

12. MEDSCAPE ARTICLES: Note: Medscape requires free registration before providing articles.

A. "Heart Failure in the Elderly: Strategies to Optimize Outpatient Control and Reduce Hospitalizations," by Michael W. Rich (_The American Journal of Geriatric Cardiology_, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2003, p. 19-27, via Medscape).

B. "Communicating the Benefits/Harms of Estrogen-Progestin Hormone Therapy With Decision Aids," by Annette O'Connor, Valerie Tait, Dawn Stacey, and Frances Legare (Medscape Women's Health eJournal, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2003).

13. WIRED ARTICLE: "Unlocking," by Kristen Philipkoski (Wired News, Apr. 10, 2003).,1286,58221,00.html


III. Working Papers:

14. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN CENTER FOR DEMOGRAPHY AND ECOLOGY: "Sexual Desire in Later Life," by John DeLamater and Morgan Sill (WP 2003-05, 2003, .pdf format, 33p.).

15. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DIMENSIONS OF AN AGING POPULATION (SEDAP) MCMASTER UNIVERSITY (HAMILTON, ONTARIO CANADA): "Examining the 'Healthy Immigrant Effect' in Later Life: Findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey," by Ellen M. Gee, Karen M. Kobayashi, and Steven G. Prus (SEDAP Working Paper No. 98, March 2003, .pdf format, 33p.).


Recent studies have established that a "healthy immigrant effect" operates in Canada -- immigrants are generally healthier than Canadian-born persons -- but that this effect tends to diminish over time, as the health of immigrants converges to the Canadian norm. Although this effect has been examined by place of birth, language, marital status, socio-economic status, charter language ability, and category of immigrant status in Canada, less is known about the "healthy immigrant effect" at different stages of the life course, particularly in mid- to later adulthood, stages at which there is an increased likelihood of decline in physical and mental health status. This study examines how age at immigration afects the health of mid- to later life immigrants, compared to Canadian-born persons, using data from the 2000-01 Canadian Community Health Survey. These data indicate that the "healthy immigrant effect" applies to later mid-life immigrants; that is, new immigrants -- those who immigrated less than 10 years ago -- aged 45-64 have better functional and self-rated health compared to their longer-term counterparts -- those who immigrated 10 or more years ago -- whose health status is similar to Canadian-born persons. Interestingly, a different picture emerges in old age (65 + years) where recent immigrants have poorer overall health compared to longer-term residents and the Canadian-born. This disadvantage, however, disappears after controlling for selected socio-demographic, socio- economic, and health behaviour factors. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for Canadian health care policy and program planning for immigrants in the latter stages of the life course.

16. BOSTON COLLEGE CENTER FOR RETIREMENT RESEARCH: "Fiscal Effects of Social Security Reform in the United States," by Courtney Coile and Jonathan Gruber (WP 2003-05, April 2003, .pdf format, 44p.).


Social Security is the largest social insurance program in the U.S., and has been shown to be a major determinant of the labor supply decisions of older workers. As such, reforming the Social Security system can have two fiscal impacts: a mechanical effect through changing the rules on benefits entitlements or taxation, and a behavioral effect through individual responses to these changes in benefits or taxes. We build a simulation model that computes these effects for major reforms to the system, building on estimated retirement responses to changing net Social Security entitlements. We then estimate the fiscal impact of reform for the 1931-1941 cohort of workers represented by the Health and Retirement Survey. We find that raising the early and normal retirement age by three years would reduce net costs for this cohort by roughly 30%, and that moving to a much higher benefit level would raise net costs by roughly 55%. Importantly, we find that in both cases the behavioral impacts on net costs are relatively small, at most one-third, and generally less than one-fifth of the total. The reason for these small effects is that the U.S. Social Security system is roughly actuarially fair, so that delaying or inducing retirement has relatively little impact on system balances; most of the effects that do arise are due to changes in general income and consumption taxes.

Click on "here" above the abstract for full text.

17. INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR APPLIED SYSTEMS ANALYSIS [LAXENBURG, AUSTRIA]: "A Comparative Analysis of the Accuracy of the United Nations' Population Projections for Six Southeast Asian Countries," by H.T. Abdullah Kahn (Interim Report IR-03-15, April 2003, .pdf and PostScript format, 39p.).


This report analyzes the accuracy of the United Nations' population forecasts in the past, based on six Southeast Asian countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The study uses available projected and estimated age-structured data published by the UN from 1950 onwards. An exploratory data analysis has been carried out to examine the accuracy of the UN forecasts. The study reveals that there is heterogeneity in the accuracy of the UN projections for different countries and the errors are age specific. For example, large errors in forecasts of age structures have been found for both the younger (0-4 years) and the older (70 years and over) cohorts for each country. However, the magnitude of errors becomes narrow with a shorter projection horizon. The analysis also shows that gradual improvement in the accuracy of projections occurs over time. The heterogeneity in error is due to the wrong assumptions made in various past projections; thus, the decomposition of the total errors provides us with interesting scenarios about the base (population) error as well as the change error (or unknown error). It has been found that, generally, the base error and the total error have consistently been decreasing over time. On the other hand, the change error does not follow any particular increasing or decreasing path. Until recently, much was unknown about the causes of the change error in forecasting; the determinants are very important to demographers in order to improve the overall accuracy of population forecasting. In short, the main findings are: i) age-specific errors are inconsistent in sign; ii) there has been a gradual improvement in the accuracy of forecasts; and iii) this increase in accuracy is due to improvements in jump-off errors, not to the forecasts of change. Finally, the present study identifies some reasonable causes of errors and makes policy suggestions.

Click on PDF or PS icons for full text.

18. INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH [UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX, UK]."Time, through the Lifecourse, in the Family," by Jonathan Gershuny (WP 2003-3, February 2003, .pdf format, 36p.).


This paper discusses the way that individuals' time budgets are influenced by changes in their family status and circumstances. We sometimes associate life course changes in time use patterns, in an unconsidered manner, with chronological ageing. But is it really age itself, or the changing material (particularly family) circumstances associated with ageing, that cause these changes? The ideal approach to answering this question would be a household panel study large enough to provide sufficient instances of the various relevant changes in material circumstances, to model their temporal consequences. However the only available time-diary panel study is too small for this purpose. So this study "fuses" the time diary evidence with evidence from a much larger and long-running national household panel study, using a number of questionnaire items highly correlated with time allocation, and present in both data sets. It uses the combined data set to show how time use is affected by changes in family statuses through the life course. It demonstrates in particular that successive stages in the "family cycle " have strong effects in increasing gendered specialisation in the distribution of paid and unpaid work.

Click on PDF icon at the bottom of the abstract for full text.


A. "Early Retirement," by by J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz and Vincenzo Galasso (Working Paper 2003-03, March 2003, .pdf format, 37p.).


This paper argues that social security enjoys wider political support than other welfare programs because: (i) retirees constitute the most homogeneous voting group, and (ii) the intragenerational redistribution component of social security induces low-income young to support this system. In a dynamically efficient overlapping generation economy with earnings heterogeneity, we show that, for sufficient income inequality and enough elderly in the population, a welfare system composed of a within-cohort redistribution scheme and an unfunded social security system represents the political equilibrium of a two-dimensional majoritarian election. Social security is sustained by retirees and low-income young; while intragenerational redistribution by low-income young. Our model suggests that to assess how changes in inequality affect the welfare state, the income distribution should be decomposed by age groups.

B. "The Macroeconomics of Early Retirement," by J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz and Vincenzo Galasso (Working Paper 2003-05, March 2003, .pdf format, 42p.).


Early retirement represents a policy response to the appearance of a mass of redundant middle-aged workers, who were not entitled to a pension transfer in their old age. This policy is distortionary, since it reduces the incentive to accumulate human capital, hence decreasing economic growth, however, it shifts part of the tax burden on future generations. Why was it adopted? We suggest that alternative policies, which do not introduce long-term distortions, but impose a larger cost on the current young generation of workers, were blocked by the political opposition of a coalition of the extreme: high income workers, who did not plan to retire early, but sought to reduce the current tax burden, and the low income workers, who expected to retire early and to benefit from the early retirement pension.


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

20. Aging and Mental Health (Vol. 7, No. 2, March 2003).

21. European Journal of Palliative Care (Vol. 10, No. 2, 2003).

22. The Gerontologist (Vol. 43, No. 2, 2003). Note: Full electronic text of this journal is available in the ProQuest Research Library. Check your library for the availability of this database and this issue.

23. Journal of Aging Studies (Vol. 17, No. 2, May 2003). Note: Full electronic text is available in the EBSCO Host Academic Search Elite Database. Check your library for the availability of this database and this issue.

Click on "Tables of Contents and Abstracts" in the left frame.

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

A. Point your browser to:

B. click on "browse by publication"
C. Type the Journal Name in the "by words in the title" search box and click "search".
D. View the table of contents for the issue noted.

Clinical Gerontologist (Vol. 25, No. 3/4, and Vol. 26, No. 1/2, 2002).

Journal of Gerontological Social Work (Vol. 38, No. 4, 2002).

Omega: Journal of Death and Dying (Vol. 45, No. 4, 2002).

25. 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 Apr. 8, 2003:

B. Alzheimer's Disease: Literature for the week of Apr. 8, 2003:

C. Parkinson's Disease: Literature for the week of Apr. 8, 2003:

D. Prostate Cancer: Literature for the week of Apr. 8, 2003:

AMADEO Literature Guide:


V. Books:

26. NAP: _Describing Death in America: What We Need to Know_, edited by June R. Lunney, Kathleen M. Foley, Thomas J. Smith, and Helen Gelband (US National Research Council, National Academy Press, 2003, Open Book browsable and searchable format, 109p.) Ordering information, as well as full text, can be found at:


VI. Funding Opportunities:

27. NIH: "Gene Discovery For Complex Neurological and Neurobehavioral Disorders" (US National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, in conjunction with several other agencies, Mar. 31, 2003).


VII. Legislation Information Updates:

28. US HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE HEARING TESTIMONY: "Hearing on Expanding Coverage of Prescription Drugs in Medicare," a hearing held Apr. 9, 2003.

Hearing testimony:

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director of the Congressional Budget Office, also testified in this hearing. His testimony (HTML, .pdf, and WordPerfect format), is available at:

29. UK HOUSE OF COMMONS PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE PUBLICATION: "Twelfth Report: Tackling pensioner poverty: encouraging take-up of entitlements," (Publication HC-565, April 2003).


Press Release:


VIII. Websites of Interest:

30. AARP INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS WEB SITE: AARP maintains this website devoted to international affairs, which, while unfortunately not linked to from the main AARP page at this time, contains a wealth of information about aging from an international perspective. Some highlights of the site include a monthly column called "New Perspectives," international news, and links to international conferences, periodicals, and seniors organizations, among others.

Jack Solock
Data Librarian--Center for Demography and Ecology and Center for
Demography of Health and Aging
4470 Social Science
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706