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Place-Based Drivers of Mortality: Evidence from Migration

Jun 2019
Working Paper
19-020
By  Amy Finkelstein, Matthew Gentzkow, and Heidi Williams

We estimate the effect of current location on elderly mortality by analyzing outcomes of movers in the Medicare population. We control for movers’ origin locations as well as a rich vector of pre-move health measures. We also develop a novel strategy to adjust for remaining unobservables, based on the assumption that the relative importance of observables and unobservables correlated with movers’ destinations is the same as the relative importance of those correlated with movers’ origins. We estimate substantial effects of current location. Moving from a 10th to a 90th percentile location would increase life expectancy at age 65 by 1.1 years, and equalizing location effects would reduce cross-sectional variation in life expectancy by 15 percent. Places with favorable life expectancy effects tend to have higher quality and quantity of health care, less extreme climates, lower crime rates, and higher socioeconomic status.

Publication Keywords: 
Mortality
health care spending
regional variation