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Describing Disability among High and Low Income Status Older Adults in Canada


  • Parminder Raina
  • Micheline Wong
  • Larry W. Chambers
  • Margaret Denton
  • Amiram Gafni


The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence, types, and severity of disabilities, as well as the medical conditions that may have caused disabilities among non-institutionalized older adults by high and low income. Disabled individuals aged 55 years and older were identified from the 1986 and 1991 Health and Activity Limitation Surveys. The overall unweighted sample sizes for each survey were 132,337 in 1986 and 91,355 in 1991. Approximately 40% of senior men and women reported having at least one disability, with women just slightly more likely than men to report being disabled. Almost twice as many senior women had low income compared with senior men. Mobility and agility disabilities were the most common types of disabilities reported by older adults. Arthritis/rheumatism was the medical condition most often reported as the primary cause of a disability among women. Men most often reported diseases of the ear and mastoid processes, with differences reported by low and high income respondents. Among 55-64 year olds, low income respondents were generally less likely to be categorized as mildly disabled and more likely to be categorized as severely disabled compared with high income respondents. In an effort to postpone or prevent disabilities in an ever-growing older population, public health initiatives are required to educate older adults about medical conditions and impairments that often lead to disability, particularly among low income seniors.

Suggested Citation

  • Parminder Raina & Micheline Wong & Larry W. Chambers & Margaret Denton & Amiram Gafni, 2000. "Describing Disability among High and Low Income Status Older Adults in Canada," Quantitative Studies in Economics and Population Research Reports 351, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:qseprr:351

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    disability; income; seniors;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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