Current Awareness in Aging Report (CAAR) #6, October 21, 1999

Note. There will be no report next week, as I will be attending the Association of Public Data Users meeting. This report will return on November 4, 1999. Enjoy the break.


I. Reports and articles

1. NCHS--REPORT: United States Life Tables Eliminating Certain Causes of Death, 1989-91, Volume 1, No. 4 (.pdf format, 193p.).

>From the Abstract:

This report shows multiple-decrement life table functions and cause-elimination life tables for 51 selected causes of death for 1989-91. Tables are shown disaggregating the data by sex and race (total population, total males, total females, white males, white females, black males, black females). It is the fourth in a set of reports released from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) presenting life table data for the United States during the period 1989-91. The U.S. decennial life table program dates from the beginning of the twentieth century when the Bureau of the Census produced life tables for the period 1900-1902. However, cause-elimination life tables have only been published previously for the periods 1959-61, 1969-71, and 1979-81.


2.  NCHS--REPORT: Quality of Death Rates by Race and Hispanic-Origin: A Summary of Current Research (Series 2, No. 128, .pdf format, 20p.).

>From the Abstract:

This report provides a summary of current knowledge and research on the quality and reliability of death rates by race and Hispanic origin published in official mortality statistics of the United States by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and other agencies. Presentation of race data in NCHS compilations such as _Health United States_ and _Vital Statistics of the United States_ includes qualifications and notes on the reliability of the data. However, in view of the importance of these statistics in efforts to measure and redress race disparities in health, this report summarizes what we know and what we do not know about the quality, validity, and reliability of these data. As such, it serves as an introduction to issues of data quality for mortality statistics by race and ethnic-origin produced by NCHS.


3. GAO--REPORT: Skilled Nursing Facilities: Medicare Payments Need to Better Account for Nontherapy Ancillary Cost Variation (HEHS-99-185, September 1999, .pdf format, 27p.)

Note that this is a temporary Internet address. After about a month, the publication will be available at:

where it can be searched by title or report number.


4. DRUGS & THERAPY PERSPECTIVES (VIA MEDSCAPE)--ARTICLE: "An Apple a Day Keeps Old Age Away," (14[5]: 5-7, August 1999, HTML format).

>From the Abstract:

The elderly population is increasing rapidly, bringing with it a public health responsibility to reduce the morbidity associated with aging. As >80% of older adults have chronic diseases that may be affected by diet, optimal nutrition may be an important factor in achieving this goal.

5. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION--NEWS RELEASE: Social Security Commissioner Kenneth S. Apfel Announces 2.4 Percent Social Security Increase. News release links to a "fact sheet showing the effect of the various automatic adjustments."

6. NCI--REPORT: The National Cancer Institute has released "Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior of Women Ages 65 and Older On Mammography Screening and Medicare: Results of an Omnibus Survey," (July 1999, .pdf format, 28p.). "Although breast cancer risk increases with age, more than one-third of women ages 65 and older are not as concerned about getting breast cancer as they were when they were younger, according to a newly released national telephone survey conducted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) in the Spring of 1999."

News Release:



II. Working Papers

7. FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF SAN FRANCISCO: "Optimal Indicators of Socioeconomic Status for Health Research," By Mary C. Daly, Greg J. Duncan, Peggy McDonough, and David Williams (Working Paper 99-03, March 1999, .pdf format, 27p.).

>From the Abstract:

Objectives: This paper examines the relationship between various measures of SES and mortality for a representative sample of individuals.

Methods: Data are from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Sample includes 3,734 individuals aged 45 and above who participated in the 1984 interview.  Mortality was tracked between 1984 and 1994 and is related to SES indicators using Cox event-history regression models.

Results: Wealth has the strongest associations with subsequent mortality, and these associations differ little by age and sex. Other economic measures, especially family-size-adjusted household income, have significant associations with mortality, particularly for nonelderly women.

Conclusions: By and large, the economic components of SES have associations with mortality that are at least as strong as, and often stronger than, more conventional components (e.g., completed schooling, occupation).

8. FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF ST. LOUIS: "Government Mandated Private Pensions: A Dependable Foundation for Retirement Security?" by Rowena A. Pecchenino and Patricia S. Pollard (WP99-012A, August 1999, .pdf format, 16p.).

>From the Abstract:

We develop a model of an overlapping generations economy characterized by private pensions where risk averse agents face both longevity and investment risks. The government mitigates the effects of longevity risk by mandating that individuals purchase annuities. Investment risk arises since the returns on annuities deviate randomly from actuarial fairness as a result of differences in the costs of administering pension funds. Thus, identical agents pensions may yield drastically different returns: the governments pension policy is not horizontally equitable. We examine whether policies exist that can achieve horizontal equity, and discuss the costs and benefits of implementing these policies.


A. "The Adequacy of Life Insurance: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Survey," by B. Douglas Bernheim, Lorenzo Forni, Jagadeesh Gokhale, and Laurence J. Kotlikoff (W7372, October 1999, .pdf format, 58p.)

>From the Abstract:

This study examines the adequacy of life insurance among married American couples approaching retirement. It improves upon previous work in two ways. First, it is based on recent, high quality data (the 1992 Health and Retirement Survey with matched Social Security earnings histories). Second, it employs new financial planning software to evaluate the life insurance needs of each household. This software embodies an elaborate life-cycle planning model that accounts for a broad array of demographic, economic, and financial characteristics. We find that a sizable minority of couples in the HRS sample are significantly underinsured. Almost one third of wives and more than 10 percent of husbands would have suffered living standard reductions of 20 percent or more had their spoused died in 1992. Underinsurance tends to be more common among low income households, couples with asymmetric earnings, younger households, couples with dependent children, and non-whites. In general, households with greater vulnerabilities do not appear to compensate adequately for these vulnerabilities through greater life insurance holdings. Among some groups, the frequency of underinsurance exceeds two-thirds, and the frequency of severe underinsurance (a reduction in living standard of 40 percent or greater) exceeds one-quarter.

B. "New Trends in Pension Benefit and Retirement Provisions," by Olivia Mitchell (W7381, October 1999, .pdf format, 75p.).

>From the Abstract:

This study illustrates and interprets changes in pension plan retirement formulas and benefit provisions over the last two decades, using extensive information on private sector pension plans gathered by the US Department of Labor since 1980. Data generated from the Employee Benefits Survey (EBS) of medium and large firms shows that pension provisions have changed a great deal in companies that have traditionally been the most consistent providers of employer-sponsored retirement benefits in the US.... Participation and vesting rules appear most lenient for workers in 401(k) plans; most employee access to pension fund assets appears to be on the upswing over time. Participants in these plans have also gained access to diversified stock and bond funds, with fewer permitted to invest in own-employer stock, common stock funds and guaranteed insurance contracts....


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

10. _Journal of the American Geriatrics Society_ (Vol. 47, No. 10, Oct. 1999). Note: extensive abstracts are available.

and click on "Contents," Volume 47 (1999), Issue 10.

11. CARL Uncover Journal Tables of Contents. Follow the instructions below to access tables of contents. Sorry for any inconvenience, but licensing restrictions do not allow me to pass the tables of contents to you, and database driven URLs are dynamic and will not work from one machine to the next.

A. Point your browser to:

B. click on "Search Uncover"
C. click on "Search Uncover Now"
D. Type the Journal Name in the search box and click the radio button
"Journal Title Browse"
E. click on the journal name
F. click on "journal issues"
G. click on the issues identified below

_Journal of Cross-cultural Gerontology (Vol. 14, No. 3, 1999)
_American Journal of Epidemiology_ (Vol. 150, No. 8, 1999)
_International Psychogeriatrics_ (Vol. 11, No. 3, 1999)

IV. Websites of Interest

12. AOA INTERNET INFORMATION NOTES: AOA IIN (discussed in CAAR #1) has added a Rural Aging Links Page to its site. There are links in the areas of statistics, reports, and bibliographies and collections.



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