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Are the Young Becoming More Disabled?

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  • Darius Lakdawalla
  • Dana Goldman
  • Jay Bhattacharya

Abstract

A fair amount of research suggests that health has been improving among the elderly over the past 10 to 15 years. Comparatively little research effort, however, has been focused on analyzing disability among the young. In this paper, we argue that health among the young has been deteriorating, at the same time that the elderly have been becoming healthier. Moreover, this growth in disability may end up translating into higher disability rates for tomorrow's elderly. Using data from the National Health Interview Survey, we find that, from 1984 to 1996, the rate of disability among those in their 40s rose by one full percentage point, or almost forty percent. Over the same period, the rate of disability declined for the elderly. The recent growth in disability has coincided with substantial growth in asthma and diabetes among the young. Indeed, the growth in asthma alone seems more than enough to explain the change in disability. Therefore, we argue that the growth in disability stems from real changes in underlying health status.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8247.

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Date of creation: Apr 2001
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Publication status: published as Lakdawalla, Darius, Jay Bhattacharya, and Dana Goldman. “Are the Young Becoming More Disabled?” Health Affairs 23, 1 (January/February 2004): 168-176.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8247

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  1. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 1999. "Aging and the Growth of Long-Term Care," Working Papers, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago 9909, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  2. repec:fth:stanho:e-90-11 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. John Bound & Timothy Waidmann, 2000. "Accounting for Recent Declines in Employment Rates among the Working-Aged Disabled," NBER Working Papers 7975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Robert F. Schoeni & Vicki A. Freedman & Robert B. Wallace, 2001. "Persistent, Consistent, Widespread, and Robust? Another Look at Recent Trends in Old-Age Disability," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 56(4), pages S206-S218.
  5. Thomas MaCurdy & David Green & Harry Paarsch, 1990. "Assessing Empirical Approaches for Analyzing Taxes and Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 415-490.
  6. 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.
  7. Jay Bhattacharya & Alan M. Garber & Thomas MaCurdy, 1996. "Cause-Specific Mortality among Medicare Enrollees," NBER Working Papers 5409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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