Work and the Disability Transition in 20th Century America
AbstractUsing data from Union Army pensioners and from the National Health Interview Surveys, we estimate that work-disability among white males aged 45-64 was 3.5 times as high in the late 19th century than at the end of the 20th century, including a decline and flattening of the age-profile since 1970. We present a descriptive model of disability that can account for a) the secular decline in prevalence; b) changes in slope of the age-profile; and c) periods of increasing prevalence. The high level and relatively flat slope of the historical disability age-profile is consistent with the early onset of chronic conditions and with high mortality associated with a subset of those conditions. We show that many common conditions in the 19th century have been either eliminated, delayed to later ages, or rendered less disabling by treatment innovations and the transformation of the workplace. These improvements have swamped the effect of declining mortality, which put upward pressure on disability prevalence. Given the low rate of mortality prior to age 65, technological changes will likely induce further reductions in work-disability, though recent increases in the prevalence of asthma and obesity may eventually work against this trend.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11036.
Date of creation: Jan 2005
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Production
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2005-01-16 (All new papers)
- NEP-HEA-2005-01-16 (Health Economics)
- NEP-HIS-2005-01-16 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
- NEP-LAB-2005-01-16 (Labour Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Timothy Waidmann & John Bound & Michael Schoenbaum, 1995. "The Illusion of Failure: Trends in the Self-Reported Health of the U.S. Elderly," NBER Working Papers 5017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Robert W. Fogel & Larry T. Wimmer, 1992.
"Early Indicators of Later Work Levels, Disease, and Death,"
NBER Historical Working Papers
0038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- R. W. Fogel & L. T. Wimmer, 1992. "Early Indicators of Later Work Levels, Disease, and Death," CPE working papers 0008, University of Chicago - Centre for Population Economics.
- Verbrugge, Lois M. & Jette, Alan M., 1994. "The disablement process," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 1-14, January.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.