Are Differences in Disability-Free Life Expectancy by Gender, Race, and Education Widening at Older Ages?
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To examine change from 1991 to 2001 in disability-free life expectancy in the age range 60–90 by gender, race, and education in the United States. Mortality is estimated over two 10-year follow-up periods for persons in the National Health Interview Surveys of 1986/1987 and 1996/1997. Vital status is ascertained through the National Death Index. Disability prevalence is estimated from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys of 1988–1994 and 1999–2002. Disability is defined as ability to perform four activities of daily living without difficulty. Disability-free life expectancy increased only among white men. Disabled life expectancy increased for all groups—black and white men and women. Racial differences in disability-free life expectancy widened among men; gender differences were reduced among whites. Expansion of socioeconomic differentials in disability-free life at older ages occurred among white men and women and black women. The 1990s was a period where the increased years of life between ages 60 and 90 were concentrated in disabled years for most population groups.
KeywordsDisability-free life expectancy Disabled life expectancy Socio-economic differences United States
The authors gratefully acknowledge the funding provided from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (ECO2010-21787-C03-01); the Beatriu de Pinós grant 2010–2012; the U.S. National Institute on Aging (P30AG017265; T32AG000037); the David E. Bell Fellowship (Center for Population & Development Studies, Harvard University) and the Center for Demography of Health and Aging at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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