Econometrica: Nov 2006, Volume 74, Issue 6
Bounds in Competing Risks Models and the War on Cancer
Bo E. Honoré, Adriana Lleras‐MuneyIn 1971, President Nixon declared war on cancer. Thirty years later, many declared this war a failure: the age‐adjusted mortality rate from cancer in 2000 was essentially the same as in the early 1970s. Meanwhile the age‐adjusted mortality rate from cardiovascular disease fell dramatically. Since the causes that underlie cancer and cardiovascular disease are likely dependent, the decline in mortality rates from cardiovascular disease may partially explain the lack of progress in cancer mortality. Because competing risks models (used to model mortality from multiple causes) are fundamentally unidentified, it is difficult to estimate cancer trends. We derive bounds for aspects of the underlying distributions without assuming that the underlying risks are independent. We then estimate changes in cancer and cardiovascular mortality since 1970. The bounds for the change in duration until death for either cause are fairly tight and suggest much larger improvements in cancer than previously estimated.
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