Self-Rated Health and 5-Year Mortality across Birth Cohorts: Change or Stability in Predictive Validity?

Edward Berchick, Princeton University

Self-rated health is a critical tool for understanding changes in health and health inequalities, including across birth cohorts. Members of different cohorts, however, may vary in their health assessments and their reference group selection due to shifts in disease and illness burdens, morbidity rates, medical technology, and psychological outlook. Therefore, SRH-based cohort trends do not distinguish cohort differences in actual health differences from changes in health knowledge and expectations. This paper helps disentangle these processes by exploring trends in the correspondence between subjective reports of health and mortality. Using data from the National Health Interview Study Linked Mortality Files, I examine whether there is change in the association between self-rated health and five-year mortality. My preliminary findings indicate that research relying on self-rated health to measure cohort differences in health captures both changes in the subjective experience of health as well as changes in physical health.

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Presented in Poster Session 8: Adult Health and Mortality