How Do Health and Marital Shocks Affect Disparities at Older Ages?

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Richard Johnson, Urban Institute

This paper measures the incidence of health and marital shocks after age 65, assesses their impact on household wealth, and compares outcomes by race/ethnicity and other characteristics. The study focuses on the need for long-term services and supports (LTSS), help with everyday activities that can be provided at home by unpaid family caregivers or paid helpers, or in residential care settings or nursing homes. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study spanning 1995 to 2018, the analysis measures how substantial LTSS needs, chronic health conditions, LTSS use, widowhood, and divorce affect the level of and changes in household wealth and the probability that older adults exhaust most of their resources.