This contribution to the “Policy Models in Pandemic” theme, part of the “Covid-19 and the Social Sciences” series, by Jessica Ho, explores the use and relevance of life expectancy models. As the death toll resulting from Covid-19 rises, this essay turns an eye toward understanding these models and how sensitive they are to sudden shocks. In doing so, Ho suggests that researchers need to recognize the strengths and limitations of data produced from these models in the short-term, and also appreciate the crucial role such models will play in understanding the evolution of population health in the long term.
Jessica Y. Ho
Jessica Y. Ho is an assistant professor in the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, Department of Sociology, and Spatial Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California. She is also a faculty affiliate of the USC Race and Equity Center and a Schaeffer Center Fellow in the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics. Her research focuses on understanding the demographic, social, and behavioral determinants of health and mortality. She has published extensively on the causes of America’s lagging life expectancy and inequalities in health and mortality within the United States. Her recent work seeks to understand the consequences of the contemporary drug overdose epidemic for families and intergenerational inequality. Ho has consulted for and contributed to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and National Research Council/Institute of Medicine (NRC/IOM) reports on how health and mortality in the United States compare to other high-income countries. She is a recipient of a Career Development Award from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and her research has also been supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.