Archives for elderly



Does Living With Children Make the Elderly Miserable?

A new working paper (gated) by Angus Deaton and Arthur A. Stone is called “Grandpa and the Snapper: the Wellbeing of the Elderly who Live with Children”:

Elderly Americans who live with people under age 18 have lower life evaluations than those who do not.  They also experience worse emotional outcomes, including less happiness and enjoyment, and more stress, worry, and anger.  In part, these negative outcomes come from selection into living with a child, especially selection on poor health, which is associated with worse outcomes irrespective of living conditions.  Yet even with controls, the elderly who live with children do worse.  This is in sharp contrast to younger adults who live with children, likely their own, whose life evaluation is no different in the presence of the child once background conditions are controlled for.  Parents, like elders, have enhanced negative emotions in the presence of a child, but unlike elders, also have enhanced positive emotions.  In parts of the world where fertility rates are higher, the elderly do not appear to have lower life evaluations when they live with children; such living arrangements are more usual, and the selection into them is less negative.  They also share with younger adults the enhanced positive and negative emotions that come with children.  The misery of the elderly living with children is one of the prices of the demographic transition.



Seniors at the Movies

Our local movie house in suburban London charges £11.90 for a regular ticket, and even seniors pay £8.90 (over $13).  But there is a special for seniors (ages 60+):  Every Tuesday they show a recent movie (e.g., Lincoln is showing on May 21) and charge only £3 ($4.60).  Moreover, you get “free tea, coffee and biscuits!” Such a deal—so how can they make money off this, or is it just altruism by the theater owners toward us old folks?

The movie costs no extra rental, and the only variable costs are the wages of the one or two workers who sell the tickets and make the eats.  The fixed costs—of the movie rental, the theater and heating/electricity, are irrelevant for the owner’s decision.  I should think that, if they can sell even 20 tickets, they will increase their profits.



How to Live Longer: a New Marketplace Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called “How to Live Longer.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player in the post, or read the transcript below.)

It looks into why Hall of Fame inductees, Oscar winners, and Nobel laureates seem to outlive their peers. The deeper question in the podcast concerns the relationship between status (not income!) and longevity — a fascinating, complex, and controversial topic (here’s a good place to start reading) about which I believe we’ll hear a great deal in years to come. It will be valuable to know what kind of “status boosts” confer health advantages and, conversely, how disappointment and the like can chip away at us.

This podcast was timed to coincide with two events this week: the annual Baseball Hall of Fame election, in which no players were selected this year for the first time since 1996 (here’s ESPN’s take and here’s a useful statistical snapshot); and the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominees. Read More »



The X-Prize Comes to the Nursing Home

We once put out a podcast called “Reading, Rockets, and ‘Rithmetic,” about how competition and prizes help drive innovation. Among the examples were the federal education program Race to the Top; Google’s “20 percent time” policy; and the X-Prize Foundation, whose founder and chairman, Peter Diamandis, remains one of my favorite radio guests ever, full of vigor and wisdom and optimism. (We’ll soon be featuring a Q&A on this blog with Diamandis and Steven Kotler, coauthors of the new book Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think.)

I’m happy to report that I am hardly the only person to be inspired by Diamandis. We recently got the following e-mail from David Sedgwick, an executive with a nursing-home company called the Ensign Group. Read More »



The Strangest Price Discrimination You’ll Ever See?

Adriano Dutra Teixeira, a Brazilian economist, sent us this photo from a restaurant. As he translates:

“Social Responsibility: 50% discount on meal for clients over 70 or bariatric surgery (stomach reduction).”

He adds:

I thought it was hilarious! So I wrote a blog post with a microeconomic approach to the promotion, using price discrimination.

I had to chuckle, in part because we’re finishing up a podcast about commitment devices, in which Levitt offers some bizarre alternatives to bariatric surgery (which we wrote about here), since it is such a drastic commitment. Read More »



The Graying of the World

Foreign Policy takes a look at aging around the world in an article and a photoessay. The article analyzes a number of aging myths. For example, lower birthrates aren’t exclusive to rich countries. Read More »



Grumpy Old Men?

New research indicates that older people are “more likely to choose to read negative articles about those younger than themselves. They also tended to show less interest in articles about older people, whether negative or positive.” Read More »



Only a University of Chicago Economist

A few weeks back, just as I finished up my stint as a journal editor, I asked a former University of Chicago economics professor to serve as an anonymous referee on a paper. Usually I wouldn’t ask someone in his eighties to be a referee, but the last time I used this fellow (when he […] Read More »