Verteilung und Entwicklung von Gesundheit im Alter | Munich Center for the Economics of Aging - MEA


Publication Series of the MPI for Social Policy

Verteilung und Entwicklung von Gesundheit im Alter


Health is one of the central determinants of whether people can and still want to work. The trajectories of five health measures with age are very different. While mental health improves for people between the ages of 60 and 69, for the other measures there is a negative relationship between age and health. However, functional health in Germany is at a very high level: More than 90 percent of people over the age of 60 state that they are not restricted in their everyday activities. This only slowly decreases with age: At the age of 69, around 83 percent are not functionally restricted.

However, the difference between the mean for age 60 and that for age 69 is much smaller than the difference between healthy and not so healthy people within each age group. This great heterogeneity is partially explained by the strong socio-economic gradient of health: all five health measures improve from income quintile to income quintile; the distance between the lowest and the second lowest income quintile is the largest.

The health of older birth cohorts has steadily improved over the past decades. Astonishingly, however, younger birth cohorts are no longer healthier than their predecessor cohorts. 55-year-olds born between 1955 and 1959 have more health restrictions than 55-year-olds who were born between 1945 and 1949. This is almost exclusively due to worse mental health, while life-threatening acute illnesses (e.g. heart attack, stroke, cancer) have also decreased over the younger birth cohorts.

Publication Details

Axel Börsch-Supan


Irene Ferrari


Luca Salerno

Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA)