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Last updated: December 2008
Volume 55, Number 4
IMF Staff Papers

Mortality and Lifetime Income: Evidence from U.S. Social Security Records

James E. Duggan, Robert Gillingham, and John S. Greenlees

Full Text of this Article (PDF 224K)

Abstract: Studies of the empirical relationship between income and mortality often rely on data aggregated by geographic areas and broad population groups and do not distinguish between disabled and nondisabled persons. This paper investigates the relationship between individual mortality and lifetime income with a large microdatabase of current and former retired participants in the U.S. Social Security system. Logit models by gender and race confirm a negative relationship. Differences in age of death between low and high levels of lifetime income are on the order of two to three years. Income-related mortality differences between blacks and whites are largest at low-income levels, but gender differences appear to be large and persistent across income levels. [JEL C40, C67, D31, H20, I38]