, Volume 47, Supplement 1, pp S191–S209 | Cite as

What can we learn from (and about) global aging?

  • Arie KapteynEmail author


Although aging is a global phenomenon, there are large differences across countries in both the speed of aging and the current age composition. Furthermore, countries adopt vastly different policies. This creates a natural laboratory that scientists can use to understand how policies affect outcomes. I discuss under what circumstances data from different countries can be used for inference about policy effects. Although comparable health and retirement data are currently being collected in some 25 countries, the use of such data requires careful modeling of differences in institutions and in response styles across countries.


Gross Domestic Product Differential Item Functioning Work Disability Dependency Ratio Response Consistency 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bago d’Uva, T., O. O’Donnell, and E. van Doorslaer. 2008. “Differential Health Reporting by Educational Level and Its Impact on the Measurement of Health Inequalities Among Older Europeans.”International Journal of Epidemiology 37: 1375–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bago d’Uva, T., E. van Doorslaer, M. Lindeboom, and O. O’Donnell. 2008. “Does Reporting Heterogeneity Bias Health Inequality Measurement?”Health Economics 17: 351–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Banks, J., M. Marmot, Z. Oldfield, and J.P. Smith. 2006. “Disease and Disadvantage in the United States and in England.”Journal of the American Medical Association 295: 2037–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Datta Gupta, N., N. Kristensen, and D. Pozzoli. 2009. “External Validation of the Use of Vignettes in Cross-Country Health Studies.” IZA Discussion Paper No. 3989. Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, Germany.Google Scholar
  5. Gruber, J. and D. Wise, eds. 1999.Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. —. 2004.Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World: Micro-Estimation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  7. —. 2007.Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World: Fiscal Implications of Reform. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. —. 2010.Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World: The Relationship to Youth Employment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Heckman, J. and R. Robb. 1985. “Using Longitudinal Data to Estimate Age, Period and Cohort Effects in Earnings Equations.” Pp. 137–50 inCohort Analysis in Social Research. Beyond the Identification Problem, edited by W. Mason and S. Fienberg. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  10. Johnston, D.W., C. Propper, and M.A. Shields. 2009. “Comparing Subjective and Objective Measures of Health: Evidence From Hypertension for the Income/Health Gradient.”Journal of Health Economics 28: 540–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Juerges, H. 2009. “Test-Retest Reliability of Health Vignette Ratings: Evidence From SHARE.” Working paper. Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging (MEA), University of Mannheim. Available online at Scholar
  12. Juster, F.T. and R. Suzman. 1995. “An Overview of the Health and Retirement Study.”Journal of Human Resources 30: 7–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kapteyn, A., R. Alessie, and A. Lusardi. 2005. “Explaining the Wealth Holdings of Different Cohorts: Productivity Growth and Social Security.”European Economic Review 49: 1361–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kapteyn, A., J.P. Smith, and A. Van Soest. 2007. “Vignettes and Self-reports of Work Disability in the United States and the Netherlands.”American Economic Review 97: 461–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. —. 2010. “Comparing Life Satisfaction.” Pp. 70–105 inInternational Differences in Well-being, edited by E. Diener, J.F. Helliwell, and D. Kahneman. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kapteyn, A., J.P. Smith, A. Van Soest, and J. Banks. 2010. “Labor Market Status and Transitions During the Pre-Retirement Years: Learning From International Differences.” Pp. 63–92 inResearch Findings in the Economics of Aging, edited by D. Wise. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  17. Kapteyn, A., J.P. Smith, H. Vonkova, and A. Van Soest. 2010. “Anchoring Vignettes and Response Consistency.” Working paper. RAND, Santa Monica, CA.Google Scholar
  18. King, G., C.J.L. Murray, J.A. Salomon, and A. Tandon. 2004. “Enhancing the Validity and Cross-Cultural Comparability of Measurement in Survey Research.”American Political Science Review 98: 567–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kristensen, N. and E. Johansson. 2008. “New Evidence on Cross-Country Differences in Job Satisfaction Using Anchoring Vignettes.”Labour Economics 15: 96–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Moulton, B.R. 1990. “An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Units.”Review of Economics and Statistics 72: 334–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 2009a. “Pensions at a Glance 2009: Retirement-Income Systems in OECD Countries.” Available online at document/49/0,3343,en_2649_34757_42992113_1_1_1_1,00.html.Google Scholar
  22. -.2009b. “Society at a Glance 2009—OECD Social Indicators.” Available online at Scholar
  23. Salomon, J.A., A. Tandon, and C.J.L. Murray. 2004. “Comparability of Self Rated Health: Cross Sectional Multi-Country Survey Study Using Anchoring Vignettes.”British Medical Journal 328: 258–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. United Nations. 2009. “World Population Prospectus: The 2008 Revision.” New York: United Nations. UN Population Database available online at Scholar
  25. Van Soest, A., L. Delaney, C. Harmon, A. Kapteyn, and J.P. Smith. 2007. “Validating the Use of Vignettes for Subjective Threshold Scales.” RAND Working Paper WR-501. Available online at Scholar

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Labor and PopulationRAND CorporationSanta Monica

Personalised recommendations