• Chart of the day: The health of baby boomers

    According to new work by Dana King and colleagues, baby boomers are less healthy than their parents.

    baby boomers sicker

    Despite their longer life expectancy over previous generations, US baby boomers have higher rates of chronic disease, more disability, and lower self-rated health than members of the previous generation at the same age. On a positive note, baby boomers are less likely to smoke cigarettes and experience lower rates of emphysema and myocardial infarction than the previous generation.

    Update your projection of Medicare costs accordingly.

    Limitation: The racial/ethnic profile of the two generations is different, with a higher proportion of non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics in the baby boom generation than the prior one.


    • Have the diagnosis criteria (and testing rate for high cholesterol for example) changed since 1994? If people were less likely to be diagnosed with high cholesterol or hypertension 20 years ago then that could change reported rates in the population. I assume diabetes and obesity are more obvious and therefore less likely to have significant changes in diagnosis rates.

    • I know that they have lower the bar on what is considered hypertension, I wonder if the person who made the chart properly accounted for that.

      More generally this boils down to an argument that perhaps wealth is bad for most people. I find that hard to believe. I do not think we know enough about the effect of the things charted. Consider that Hispanics are more likely to be overweight and to develop diabetes but they still live longer.

    • The raw NHANES data seems to directly contradict this chart (at least on hypercholesterolemia):