Chronological age (CA) is a standard indicator that reflects overall risks of morbidity and mortality. However, CA is only a crude proxy for individuals’ latent physiological deterioration. An alternative to CA is biological age (BA), an indicator of accumulated age-related biological change reflected in markers of major physiological systems. We propose and validate two BA estimators that improve upon existing ones. These estimators (i) are based on a structural equation model (SEM) that represents the relation between BA and CA, (ii) circumvent the need to impose arbitrary assumptions about the relation between CA and BA, and (iii) provide tools to empirically test the validity of assumptions the researcher may wish to invoke. We use nationally representative samples of the US population (NHANES and HRS) to assess the link between BA and life expectancy.


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