USC Schaeffer Center Signs International Agreement to Inform Health Policy across Scores of Nations

The Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the University of Rome Tor Vergata have signed an agreement to develop a global aging simulation platform. This collaborative effort will be led by the USC Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation, part of the Schaeffer Center of the University of Southern California.

The agreement will expand the Future Elderly Model (FEM) which has followed Americans 51 and older, projecting their health and medical needs over time. Developed over the past decade by a researchers at the Roybal Center along with collaborators at Harvard University, Stanford University, RAND Corporation, University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania, the FEM has explored a range of health policy issues, providing insights to government agencies, the White House, the National Academies of Sciences and others, in setting health policy for an aging population.

“The FEM is a powerful tool to predict the consequences of public policy for health outcomes, population aging, and fiscal sustainability,” said Dana Goldman, who led the development of the model and is the director of the Schaeffer Center. “As societies around the world continue their demographic transitions, this agreement will provide policy makers around the world with forecasts to make better, evidence-based decisions.”

According to the World Health Organizations, the elderly population will increase by 250% by 2050 in developing nations, compared to 71% in developed nations. Having access to a global FEM will give researchers tools to explore data on life expectancies, health status and medical needs which in turn provides crucial information to policy makers when deciding how to allocate resources.

“The opportunity to expand the USA FEM to become a social and health policy decision-support tool for OECD countries is highly valued and important for governments in tackling the social and economic challenges of ageing populations and in building healthier and more economically equal societies,” said Jillian Oderkirk, senior analyst at the OECD. “The OECD looks forward to continued collaboration with USC and the University Rome on the new Global FEM.”

The simulation platform provides researchers with common tools to identify and collaboratively pursue policy questions of global interest. The agreement builds a framework through which researchers from around the world are able to together examine aging patterns across nations and to identify where these are unequal. To do this work, the agreement sets forth a plan to make data available to teams in participating countries, overcoming platform barriers and other technical issues that could stall work.

Last year, the USC Roybal Center organized two international conferences in Rome and Paris   that examined microsimulations to advance public policy around the world. These conferences helped form a foundation for the international agreement with the establishment of goals including identification of policy questions of mutual interest; proposing common tools and approaches to answer them; development of collaborative work plans; harmonization of data across countries and platforms; and solving technical issues.

As part of the new agreement, the USC Roybal Center will lead an international research collective that aims to publish on the potentially unequal aging patterns across industrialized nations. The collaboration expands upon the Center’s previous work on this topic. Findings should be in press in early 2017.