Disparities in Trends in Old-Age Disability

Bob Schoeni, University of Michigan
Vicki A. Freedman, Polisher Research Institute
Linda G. Martin, Population Council

A consensus has emerged that disability prevalence rates have declined among older Americans (Freedman, et al, 2002). If such declines continue, their effect on the nation's health and economic well-being could be incredibly far-reaching, with potentially more older Americans able to work longer and relatively fewer needing medical and long-term care (Cutler 2001a, 2001b; Lubitz et al. 2001; Singer & Manton 1998). Our proposed study provides new evidence on trends in disability among older persons from 1982 to 2001 with a focus on identifying socioeconomic and demographic groups that have and have not experienced improvements. We will use the 1982-2001 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS) to estimate the prevalence of disability and test for disparities in trends. The expanded content of the NHIS from 1997 to 2001 will also be used to examine a broader set of disability measures and socioeconomic factors than have been previously analyzed.

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Presented in Session 111: Demography of Disability