Health Shocks and Economic Well-Being of the Aging Population: Evidence from Mexico

Deborah S. DeGraff, Susan W. Parker, Karina Orozco-Rocha, Rebeca Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We exploit the longitudinal Mexican Health and Aging Study to estimate the effects of health shocks in the short-run on the subsequent economic well-being of the aging population in Mexico. While there is substantial evidence indicating negative economic effects of such changes in industrialized countries, little is known about health impacts on the future economic position of older adults in low- and middle-income countries. This paper takes an important step towards filling this gap in knowledge. Our results are widely relevant, with a large percentage of the world’s population residing in developing countries such as Mexico that are experiencing rapid aging. We find evidence of negative impacts of health shocks on subsequent economic well-being of older adults in Mexico, but the effect varies according to several dimensions. First, the impact is clearly on income, not wealth. Second, responses are heterogenous across sources of income, with evidence of an impact mainly on labor income. Third, we find clear differences by gender in the impact of a health shock, with a larger negative impact on men. Fourth, we conclude that the population groups most negatively affected are those with the greatest degree of vulnerability prior to the shock, as measured by education and access to health insurance. Even though Mexico has made important gains with anti-poverty programs such as the Programa 70+ pension and a move towards universal health insurance, additional interventions targeted at the most vulnerable subsets of the aging population might be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-675
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Population Ageing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Aging
  • Health shock
  • Income
  • Latin America
  • MHAS longitudinal data
  • Mexico

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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