HEALTH ACROSS THE LIFE COURSE

The panel commissioned two special analyses of health under age 50. For the first analysis, Palloni and Yonker (2012) collated data for the same 17 peer countries discussed in Chapter 1 and examined the results across four age groups: infancy and early childhood (ages 0 to 4), late childhood and adolescence (ages 5-19), early adulthood (ages 20-34), and middle adulthood (ages 35-49).1 The analysis drew on data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD 2010 Study), UNICEF, and statistics that OECD has compiled from various national sources and household surveys conducted in its member countries. The second analysis, by Viner (2012), examined mortality rates by cause in the United States and 26 other high-income countries2 for five age groups—1-4, 5-9, 10-14, 15-19, and 20-24—and then reanalyzed the data for the 17 peer countries of interest to the panel. These data were drawn from the WHO World Mortality Database.

The panel also commissioned a third analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the United States (NHANES) and the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), in which Crimmins and Solé-Auró (2011) compared the cardiovascular risk profile of adults at age 50 in the United States and other high-income countries.

The data presented in this chapter are subject to important limitations. As already noted, there is no single measure of health status across the life course, and comparable data on many important health measures are not available across all countries. The available data often cover a very narrow (recent) time period and do not extend far enough back in time to capture health determinants that may explain current patterns. Ideally, longitudinal data would be used to examine changes in health conditions over time. Comparisons of national indicators also mask important within-country health disparities: a country’s low ranking on any indicator may be a reflection of a health disadvantage in certain segments of the population or some geographic regions. Finally, despite any adjustments or harmonization, most data were not originally collected for the purposes of this report. The

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1Age groups cannot always be defined consistently across data sources. Dividing the life course into age groups is largely a matter of convenience, although each phase of life pre-sents different health challenges and opportunities, developmental milestones, and crucial transitions.

2These 27 countries are Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.



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