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

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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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12040.

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Date of creation: Feb 2006
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Publication status: published as "How Do The Better Educated Do It? Socioeconomic Status and Ability to Cope with Underlying Impairment," forthcoming in D. Wise, ed., Developments in the Economics of Aging, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009 (with Mary Beth Landrum and Kate Stewart).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12040

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  1. 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.
  2. Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1999. "Mortality, Education, Income, and Inequality among American Cohorts," NBER Working Papers 7140, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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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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