SEDAP: Research Paper Abstracts (2003)

  1. The Wealth and Asset Holdings of U.S.-Born and Foreign-Born Households: Evidence from SIPP Data
    Deborah A. Cobb-Clark and Vincent Hildebrand

  2. SIPP data are used to analyze the wealth of the U.S. foreign-born population. We find that the median wealth level of U.S.-born couples is 2.3 times the median of foreign-born couples, while the median wealth level of U.S.-born singles is three times that of foreign-born singles. Further, there is a great deal of diversity in wealth within the immigrant population. Diversity in net worth manifests itself primarily in source-region differences, while entry-cohort is more closely related to portfolio choices. Established immigrants hold less and recent immigrants hold more financial wealth. An opposite pattern emerges with respect to real estate equity.

  3. Population Aging, Productivity, and Growth in Living Standards
    William Scarth
  4. Population aging creates both a problem (higher taxes on a small group of workers to finance higher public pension and health care costs) and automatic adjustments that help to address that problem. The prospect of longer retirement involves an increased incentive to invest in physical capital, and labour scarcity leads to higher pre-tax wages and an increased incentive to invest in human capital. Thus, productivity growth can be favourably affected by aging. The likely empirical magnitude of this beneficial effect is assessed in this paper.

  5. A Life-course Perspective on the Relationship between Socio-economic Status and Health: Testing the Divergence Hypothesis
    Steven G. Prus
  6. While adults from all socio-economic status (SES) levels generally encounter a decline in health as they grow older, research shows that health status is tied to SES at all stages of life. The dynamics of the relationship between SES and health over the life course of adult Canadians, however, remain largely unexplored. This paper tests the divergence hypothesis, which postulates that the SES- based gap in health widens with age, using a representative sample of Canadians aged 25 to 79 from the 1994/1995 National Population Health Survey. Multiple linear regression analyses show support for this assumption; that is, the relationship between SES (measured by years of education and annual household income) and health (measured by self-rated and functional health indexes) strengthens with age. The results of this study provide insight and answers about healthy aging among Canadians.

  7. Immigrant Mental Health and Unemployment
    Steven Kennedy
  8. The objective of this research is to assess whether stress associated with the transition to a new country combined with additional stress arising from unemployment affects the mental health of immigrants. I use the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Australia (LSIA) to examine the effect of labour force status on the mental health of immigrants. By using a rich longitudinal data set, I am able to control for individual immigrant differences whilst examining whether changes in mental health cause changes in labour force status rather than changes in labour force status causing changes in mental health. I find that causality runs from unemployment to mental health and that unemployment significantly adversely affects the mental health of immigrants. Other characteristics associated with poor mental health include; age, gender, visa category, marital status and educational attainment.

  9. The Relationship between Education and Health in Australia and Canada
    Steven Kennedy
  10. It is well accepted that education is positively related to health. However, there is considerably less agreement as to the explanation of this relationship. I examine the strength of the empirical relationship between education and health for Australia and Canada. I find that education is indeed related to health and to a very similar extent in both countries. I discuss three important explanations of the education and health relationship: technical efficiency, allocative efficiency and time preference explanations. Empirical analysis is presented which attempts to distinguish between the alternative explanations. I find evidence for all three explanations.

  11. The Transition from Good to Poor Health: An Econometric Study of the Older Population
    Neil J. Buckley, Frank T. Denton, A. Leslie Robb and Byron G. Spencer
  12. This is a study of the influence of socioeconomic factors on the state of health of older Canadians. Three years of panel data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics are used to model the transition probabilities between good and poor health. Care is taken to avoid the problem of endogeneity of income in modelling its effects, and to adjust reported income to free it from its strong association with age at the time of the survey. Of particular note are the significant effects found for income, in spite of universal public health care coverage. Significant effects are found also for age, education, and other variables.

  13. Using Structural Equation Modeling to Understand the Role of Informal and Formal Supports on the Well-being of Caregivers of Persons with Dementia
    Parminder Raina, Chris McIntyre, Bin Zhu, Ian MDowell, Lina Santaguida, Betsy Kristjansson, Alexandra Hendricks, Larry W. Chambers
  14. This study examined the direct and indirect relationships based on stress process conceptual model between informal caregiver characteristics, source of caregiver stress and informal and formal support on the well-being of the caregivers of persons with dementia. Structural Equation Modeling was used to test specific hypotheses based on 327 caregivers of study subjects with dementia who were living in the community and that were derived from the first wave of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging.

    Our findings show that the negative impact of the increase in care recipient's disability on psychological well-being of the caregiver was moderated mostly by the use of informal support systems, and marginally by formal support systems. The use of informal support by caregivers resulted in a decreased use of formal supports. The relationship between caregiver characteristics and psychological health was mediated by the formal support but not by informal support systems.

  15. Helping to Build and Rebuild Secure Lives and Futures: Intergenerational Financial Transfers from Parents to Adult Children and Grandchildren
    Jenny Ploeg, Lori Campbell, Margaret Denton, Anju Joshi, Sharon Davies
  16. This paper explores one form of intergenerational exchange, that of financial transfers from parents to adult children and grandchildren. Research on intergenerational financial transfers has been sparse, and little is known about the perceptions of older people themselves related to such transfers. Survey data from a convenience sample of older Canadians was analyzed to determine the type of financial assistance older persons provide to their adult children and grandchildren, what motivates them to provide this assistance, and the meanings such transfers hold for the older persons themselves.

    Findings from the study are discussed within a life course perspective. An overarching theme that emerges from this study reflects the desire of older parents to help their children and grandchildren 'build or rebuild secure lives and futures'. Other reasons for providing such financial assistance are discussed under the themes: family love or commitment; "they need it and I can help"; family history of assistance; and passing on an early inheritance.

  17. Geographic Dimensions of Aging in Canada 1991-2001
    Eric G. Moore and Michael A. Pacey
  18. Although population aging at the national level has received much attention, its geographical dimensions have not. Here we explore the demographic processes which underlie population aging at the provincial and metropolitan scale for the periods 1991-1996 and 1996-2001. A demographic accounting framework is proposed which differentiates between the effects of aging-in-place and net migration on population aging. We also examine the relationships between the various measures of aging and social and economic characteristics of metropolitan areas over the two periods. We demonstrate that the path of population aging is susceptible to social and economic context; in particular, the struggles of the British Columbian economy in the second half of the decade and the deteriorating economies of older resources based communities are associated with increases in population aging over and above the general aging taking place in Canadian society.

  19. Examining the "Healthy Immigrant Effect" in Later Life: Findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey
    Ellen M. Gee, Karen M. Kobayashi, and Steven G. Prus
  20. 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 affects 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.

  21. The Evolution of High Incomes in Canada, 1920-2000
    Emmanuel Saez and Michael R. Veall
  22. This paper presents new homogeneous series on top shares of income from 1920 to 2000 in Canada using personal income tax return data. Top income shares display a U-shaped pattern over the century, with a precipitous drop during World War II, followed by a slower decline until 1970. Since the late 1970s, top income shares have been increasing steadily and the very top shares are now as high as in the pre-war era. As in the United States, the recent increase in top income shares is the consequence of a surge in top wages and salaries. The parallel evolution of top income shares in Canada and the United States, associated with much more modest marginal tax rate cuts in Canada, suggests that the upward trend in top shares in Canada since the late 1970s cannot be explained by tax cuts. Further evidence suggests that the upward trend in Canada derives from the United States, perhaps because many Canadians have an emigration option.

  23. Macroeconomic Implications of Population Aging and Public Pensions
    Malick Souare
  24. We develop a calibrated general equilibrium model of a small open economy to examine some macroeconomic and distributional effects of an aging population. The model features overlapping generations with a public pension system, asymmetric information in the labor market, and includes some households that are liquidity constrained. Our main results are as follows. First, by analyzing the consequences of population aging in one country without taking into account the extent of aging throughout the world, one may systematically misestimate the effect which aging may have on that country’s living standards and its net foreign asset position. Second, the magnitude of the effect of an aging population on people's average living standards, both in the short run and in the long run, significantly depends on whether or not they are liquidity constrained. Third, whether increases in contribution rates to finance the public pension system (as the elderly dependency ratio rises) are imposed on workers or firms has little effect on the impact of aging on living standards; however, it does matter for the unemployment rate.

  25. How Do Parents Affect the Life Chances of Their Children as Adults? An Idiosyncratic Review
    John Ermisch
  26. From genes to bequests, parents have important influences on the income, health and general living standards of their children as adults. The purpose of this paper is to review how parents affect the life chances of their children, with a particular focus on my own research in this area.

  27. Population Change and Economic Growth: The Long-Term Outlook
    Frank T. Denton and Byron G. Spencer
  28. The rate of growth of GDP can be expressed as the sum of the rates of growth of the population, the proportion of the population from which the labour force is drawn, the overall labour force participation rate, the employment rate, and the aggregate labour productivity ratio. Making use of this simple accounting identity we examine the contributions of the various components to the growth of GDP and GDP per capita in the half-century 1951-2001, decade by decade, and the prospective contributions to future growth under alternative demographic, participation rate, and productivity assumptions.

  29. Use of Medicines by Community Dwelling Elderly in Ontario
    Peri J. Ballantyne, Joan A. Marshman, Philippa J. Clarke, and J. Charles Victor
  30. Objective: Prescription medicine use by the elderly is of growing concern as indicated by a large literature focused on rising costs, patient compliance and the appropriateness of use. However, prescriptions account for only a portion of medicines used by the elderly, who have increasing access to non-prescription medicines and natural health products. The objective of this paper is to describe overall medicine use among the elderly in Ontario.

    Methods: Using the National Population Health Survey (1996/97), we describe self-reported use of prescription, non-prescription and alternative medicines among elderly Ontarians aged 65+, and we compare use among four age sub-groups and by gender. Analysis is focused on the prevalence of, and the relative balance of use of different types of medicines.

    Results: About one quarter of the respondents reported using no prescription or non-prescription medicines in the two days prior to being surveyed; a large majority reported using two or fewer medicines only, and use of non- prescription medicines was reported more often than prescription medicines (56% vs 48%). Use of natural health products by seniors is relatively low, but we observe a trend toward increased use in younger age groups.

    Discussion: The findings place the consumption of prescription medicines by the elderly into a broader context that reveals that much of medicine use by the elderly involves non-prescribed products. We highlight the need to better understand seniors’ decision-making regarding the different types of medicines available, and the financial costs and health risks of the medicine regimes of elderly persons.

  31. The Economic Legacy of Divorced and Separated Women in Old Age
    Lynn McDonald and A. Leslie Robb
  32. Although progress has been made over the last 20 years, the burden of a low income in old age is still carried by unattached women. Few researchers, however, have examined exactly where the burden of poverty falls within the category of unattached older women or the nature of this poverty. Like any other group of older Canadians, unattached women are not a homogenous population. The category of ‘unattached’ includes the separated, divorced, widowed and ever single, all of whom face different circumstances in old age because of differences over the life course. Using SLID data we examine income and sources of income from 1993 to 1999 to identify differences among these groups. The findings indicate that the separated and divorced are the poorest of all older unattached women in Canada. A key source of the difference is the growth in private pension incomes.

  33. National Catastrophic Drug Insurance Revisited: Who Would Benefit from Senator Kirby's Recommendations?
    Thomas F. Crossley, Paul V. Grootendorst, and Michael R. Veall
  34. The recent "Romanow" and "Kirby" inquiries into the Canadian health care system recommended a publicly funded catastrophic prescription drug insurance program to protect Canadians from potentially ruinous drug costs. While the Romanow commission was not specific about the nature of such a program, the Kirby commission recommended that household prescription drug expenses be capped at 3% of total household income, or $1,500 per household member, whichever is lower, with government picking up the remainder.

    Using recent survey data on household spending, we estimate how the program would assist households of different means and ages, residing in different regions of the country. We find that, despite the fact that senior and low income non-senior households are the primary beneficiaries of provincial government drug plans, average subsidies would be over 4 times higher for these households than for all other (non-senior, non-indigent) households. A small percentage of other households would be among the largest beneficiaries of the program.

    Program benefits are typically larger in provinces with less generous public coverage and tend to benefit lower income households. Program costs are estimated to be at least $461 million annually, although reductions in out of pocket drug spending will reduce medical tax credits and thereby increase tax revenues by at least $80 million. Program costs appeared to be very sensitive to increased household drug spending that might result from the program introduction.

  35. WAGES in CANADA: SCF, SLID, LFS and the Skill Premium
    A.L Robb, L. Magee, and J.B. Burbidge
  36. For the years 1981 to 1997 the Survey of Consumer Finances served as the main source of information about the earnings of individuals, households and families. The Survey of Labour Income Dynamics, begun in 1993, was intended to replace and to improve upon the SCF. The Labour Force Survey which began releasing earnings information in 1997 (the last year of the SCF) is a second alternative for extending historical earnings data to the present day.

    This paper examines the extent to which either of these two surveys can be used to extend the SCF series to more recent times. Neither survey comes off as satisfactory in all respects as an extension of SCF earnings data though if one's purposes are more limited, such as studying the education premium, then merging results from the SCF and SLID seems a reasonable way to proceed. It is not possible here to assess the ability of SLID or LFS to extend the SCF for other applications. But this method could easily be adapted to address other similar questions.

  37. A Synthetic Cohort Analysis of Canadian Housing Careers
    Thomas F. Crossley and Yuri Ostrovsky
  38. This paper uses a time-series of cross-sections drawn from three different surveys to explore life-cycle profiles of housing arrangements in Canada. Synthetic cohort (quasi-panel) methods are employed to disentangle age profiles from cohort effects. The results suggest limited "downsizing" in later life. Potential biases arising from changes in cohort composition are also explored.

  39. The Policy Challenges of Population Ageing
    Alan Walker
  40. This paper first questions the universal process whereby what should be welcome demographic change leading to societal ageing has been transformed into a crisis of the welfare state. It then focuses on five key policy challenges -- ensuring economic security in old age; maintaining inter-generational solidarity; combating age discrimination; providing long term care in the context of changes in the family and residence patterns; and ensuring that older people experience full citizenship and are not socially excluded -- from a European perspective. Finally, it sets out a new policy direction, a strategy for active ageing.

  41. Social Transfers and Income Inequality in Old-age: A Multi-national Perspective
    Robert L. Brown and Steven G. Prus
  42. This paper examines variation in old-age income inequality between industrialized nations with modern welfare systems. The analysis of income inequality across countries with different retirement income systems provides a perspective on public pension policy choices and designs and their distributional implications. Because of the progressive nature of public pension programs, we hypothesize that there is an inverse relationship between the quality of public pension benefits and old-age income inequality -- that is, countries with comprehensive, universal, and generous public pension systems will exhibit more equal distributions of income in old age.

    Luxembourg Income Study data indeed show that cross-national variation in old-age income inequality is partly explained by differences in the percentage of seniors' total income derived from public pension transfers. Sweden, for example, has the highest level of government transfers and the lowest level of old-age income inequality, while Israel and the U.S. have the lowest levels of dependency on government transfers and the highest levels of income inequality. A notable exception is Canada where public transfers represent only a moderate portion of elderly income, yet old-age income inequality is relatively low. This suggests that other factors besides quality of public pension benefits play a role in differences in old-age income inequality across countries.

  43. Organizational Change and the Health and Well-Being of Home Care Workers
    Margaret Denton, Isik Urla Zeytinoglu, and Sharon Davies
  44. Objective: The objective of this research is to study the impact of health care restructuring and other organizational changes on the mental and physical health of home care workers.

    Methods: This study covers 11 agencies and 7 union locals. We interviewed 59 key decision-makers, 171 workers in 29 focus groups, and surveyed 1,311 workers (70% response rate). Qualitative data are analyzed for themes and quantitative data analysis consists of descriptive statistics and associations between variables.

    Results: The restructuring of the health care sector and organizational change have increased stress levels and musculoskeletal disorders of home care workers. Physical health problems among this workforce are much higher than the comparable group in the Canadian population. Restructuring and organizational change are significant factors in decreasing job satisfaction, while increasing absenteeism rates, fear of job loss, and propensity to leave.

    Conclusions: Occupational health problems experienced by these workers are preventable. It is important to acknowledge that occupational stress can result from incremental changes in the work and external work environment, affecting physical health, job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, and propensity to leave. Sufficient government funding to provide services, avoiding continuous changes in the work environment, and creating supportive work environments can positively contribute to workers' health.

  45. Stasis Amidst Change: Canadian Pension Reform in an Age of Retrenchment
    Daniel Béland and John Myles
  46. Faced with aging populations and especially heightened fiscal constraints, large scale pension reforms were implemented in many affluent democracies during the 1990s. Canadian reforms, by contrast, were quite modest and old age security benefits emerged largely unscathed. Drawing on the comparative experience of other OECD nations, we highlight four characteristics of the Canadian pension system and the policy environment to account for this relative stability:(1) the comparatively modest scale of Canadian public sector pension expenditures; (2) relatively greater reliance on general revenue as opposed to payroll taxes to finance these expenditures; (3) the availability of other expenditure targets, notably health care, post-secondary education and social assistance, that could be cut with less political backlash; and (4) a pension design that allocates the public sector share disproportionately to the bottom end of the income distribution, precluding the emergence of the oppositional politics that fueled public debate elsewhere.

  47. Socioeconomic Influence on the Health of Older People: Estimates Based on Two Longitudinal Surveys
    Neil J. Buckley, Frank T. Denton, A. Leslie Robb, Byron G. Spencer
  48. There is a strong positive relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and health, but identifying the direction of causation is difficult. This study exploits the longitudinal nature of two Canadian surveys, the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics and the National Population Health Survey, to study the link from SES to health. For people aged 50 and older who are initially in good health we examine whether changes in health status over the next two to four years are related to prior SES, as represented by income and education. Although the two surveys were designed for quite different purposes the evidence they yield with respect to the probability of remaining in good health is strikingly similar. Both suggest that SES does play a role, that the differences across SES groups are quantitatively significant, that the differences increase with age, and that they are much same for men and women.

  49. An Invitation to Multivariate Analysis: An Example About the Effect of Educational Attainment on Migration Propensities in Japan
    Atsushi Otomo and Kao-Lee Liaw
  50. To provide a strong motivation for students to learn multivariate statistics and the multivariate way of thinking, this paper uses an easily understandable example of ascertaining the effect of educational attainment on migration propensity in Japan. With cross-tabulations and a logistic model, we demonstrate the necessity of the multivariate approach by showing that the control for the effect of gender is indispensable for revealing the true effect of educational attainment. We further identify two conditions under which valid inference about the effect of a factor depends critically on the control for another factor. Finally, we identify an apparent contradiction between tabulated and logistic results and present a resolution to it.

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Last revised: Jan 13, 2004.