The Sensitivity of the Healthy Life Years Indicator: Approaches for Dealing with Age-Specifi c Prevalence Data

Vanessa di Lego , Vienna Institute of Demography
Markus Sauerberg , Federal Institute for Population Research

We assess whether changing specifi c assumptions when estimating the Healthy Life Years (HLY) indicator and adopting different prevalence distributions by age can lead to different results. We test whether smoothing the disability prevalence by age using flexible smoothing splines and polynomial function has any impact on HLY. The prevalence is also computed by single-age, 5-year and 10-year age intervals. In addition, we estimate HLY considering no disability before the age of 16 and half of the prevalence for 16 to 20 years-old, which is the conventional approach. We additionally graduate mortality rates from the Human Mortality Database to evaluate if smoothing mortality patterns may affect HLY estimates. Data on disability is obtained from the from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC). Our results indicate that the absolute differences in HLY are small, but do matter for how some countries are ranked. Graduating and smoothing mortality also presented no substantial effect. On all the variants tested, no disability before age 16 was the one that had the highest impact on HLY at birth. Nonetheless, some countries experience changes in rankings when merely adopting different smoothing strategies, which merits further investigation.

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 Presented in Session 20. Adding Healthy Life Years to Our Lives