NBER Center for Aging and Health Research

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The NBER Center for Aging and Health Research is funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). The goals of the Center are to promote research by economists on issues in aging, and to better serve and coordinate NBER research on aging and health. The Center serves as the integrating umbrella for an extensive collection of NIA-funded research activities on the economics of aging and health taking place at the NBER.

With the U.S. population age 65 and older growing rapidly, economics research on aging and health issues has never been more important. Life expectancy at age 65 has increased by close to a year every decade since 1940. And the long-anticipated aging of the baby boom generation across the threshold of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare is now upon us. The implications of demographic trends are extensive, yet they are just one part of the changing environment in which people age.

The changing landscape also includes a decline in traditional employer-provided pension plans, increased saving in 401(k)-type retirement plans, rising health care costs, changes in the work histories of retiring couples, and advances in medical care and functional supports for those with health impairments. There are continuing ramifications of the Great Recession, and of the substantial volatility in financial and housing markets. These developments have added to the fiscal challenges of government, and have complicated people's financial planning for later life. Policy changes, such as the Affordable Care Act, or prospective Social Security reform also affect the landscape in which people age.

The overarching goal of Center research is to understand the health and financial wellbeing of people as they age, how wellbeing is affected by the changing environment in which people live, and what interventions might be effective in improving health and financial wellbeing. Among the major themes of investigation are: (1) trends in health and disability, (2) health care costs and productivity, (3) implications of health policy reform, (4) possibilities for extending working lives, (5) work and retirement around the world, (6) health and financial wellbeing, and (7) the broad reach of education. These themes are selected because of their particular relevance to the wellbeing of people as they age, and because of their timeliness based on the challenges and opportunities of the next two decades.