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Original Scholarship State Health Policy
David H. Rehkopf
Frank F. Furstenberg
John W. Rowe
The Aging Society Research Network
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Context: Although it is recognized that aspects of US state environments impact the likelihood that older adults age successfully, there is currently no reliable and comprehensive measure of contexts that best support successful aging at a state level. The current project adapts a multidimensional index previously used to assess adaptation to successful aging in developed countries and applies it to the 50 US states and the District of Columbia.
Methods: We obtained data from multiple sources for all 50 US states and the District of Columbia from 2003 to 2017 in order to measure five distinct domains that define successful population aging: (1) productivity and engagement, (2) security, (3) equity, (4) cohesion, and (5) well-being. We created a ranking of states for the year 2017 based on these domains, and also examined how individual US state rankings changed over time from 2003 to 2017.
Findings: The level of adaptation to successful aging varied substantially between states and over time. The highest-ranked states in 2017 were Vermont, Hawaii, Iowa, Colorado, and New Hampshire, and the lowest-ranked states were Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Mississippi. Mississippi, South Carolina, Iowa, Arizona, and Delaware had the greatest improvement in their ranking over the period of 2003 to 2017. Our findings were generally robust to the weighting scheme used and were not overly influenced by any particular domain.
Conclusions: The US State Index of Successful Aging can be used to monitor US state progress in promoting the well-being and health of aging populations. Factors driving the changes in the index remain to be elucidated.
Keywords: aging, states, metrics, policy, successful aging.
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