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How Do The Better Educated Do It? Socioeconomic Status and the Ability to Cope With Underlying Impairment

In: Developments in the Economics of Aging

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  • David M. Cutler
  • Mary Beth Landrum
  • Kate A. Stewart

Abstract

There is a pronounced gradient in disability across socioeconomic groups, with better educated and higher income groups reporting substantially less disability. In this paper, we consider why that is the case, focusing on impairments in basic physical and cognitive aspects of living for the elderly. Our empirical work has two parts. First, we consider how much of this gradient in disability is a result of underlying differences in functioning versus the ability to cope with impairments. We show differences in functioning are the major part of the difference in disability, but both are important. Second, we consider how the better educated elderly cope with disability. Better educated people use substantially more assistive technology than the less educated and are more likely to use paid help. But use of these services is not the primary reason that the better educated are better able to cope. We conclude with thoughts about other potential factors that may explain differential coping.

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This chapter was published in:

  • David A. Wise, 2009. "Developments in the Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise09-1, July.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11317.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11317

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    1. Stuck, Andreas E. & Walthert, Jutta M. & Nikolaus, Thorsten & Büla, Christophe J. & Hohmann, Christoph & Beck, John C., 1999. "Risk factors for functional status decline in community-living elderly people: a systematic literature review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 445-469, February.
    2. Vicki Freedman & Eileen Crimmins & Robert Schoeni & Brenda Spillman & Hakan Aykan & Ellen Kramarow & Kenneth Land & James Lubitz & Kenneth Manton & Linda Martin & Diane Shinberg & Timothy Waidmann, 2004. "Resolving inconsistencies in trends in old-age disability: Report from a technical working group," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 417-441, August.
    3. Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1999. "Mortality, education, income and inequality among American cohorts," Working Papers 279, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
    4. Agree, Emily M., 1999. "The influence of personal care and assistive devices on the measurement of disability," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 427-443, February.
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    Cited by:
    1. Choe, Chung, 2009. "Determinants of Labor Market Outcomes of Disabled Men Before and After the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990," IRISS Working Paper Series 2009-07, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.

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