An age-cohort decomposition applied to panel data identifies how the mean, overall inequality and income-related inequality of self-assessed health evolve over the life cycle and differ across generations in 11 EU countries. There is a moderate and steady decline in mean health until the age of 70 or so and a steep acceleration in the rate of deterioration thereafter. In southern Europe and Ireland, where development has been most rapid, the average health of generations born in more recent decades is significantly better than that of older generations. This is not observed in the northern European countries. In almost all countries, health is more dispersed among older generations indicating that Europe has experienced a reduction in overall health inequality over time. Although there is no consistent evidence that health inequality increases as a given cohort ages, this is true in the three largest countries-UK, France and Germany. In the former two countries and the Netherlands, at least for males, the income gradient in health peaks around retirement age, as in the US. In most European countries, unlike the US, there is no evidence that income-related health inequality is greater among younger than older generations.

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Journal of Health Economics
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Kippersluis, H., van Ourti, T., O'Donnell, O., & van Doorslaer, E. (2009). Health and income across the life cycle and generations in Europe. Journal of Health Economics, 28(4), 818–830. doi:10.1016/j.jhealeco.2009.04.001