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Coping with Chronic Disease? Chronic Disease and Disability in Elderly American Population 1982-1999

  • Gabriel Aranovich
  • Jay Bhattacharya
  • Alan M. Garber
  • Thomas E. MaCurdy
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    It is well known that disability rates among the American elderly have declined over the past decades. The cause of this decline is less well established. In this paper, we test one important possible explanation--that the decline in disability occurred because of chronic disease prevention efforts among the elderly. For this purpose we analyze data from the National Long Term Care Survey and from the National Health and Interview Survey. Our findings suggest that primary prevention, as reflected in decreased disease prevalence, was not responsible for advances made in elderly functioning between 1980 and 2000. We found a broad decline in less severe forms of disability that is unlikely to have resulted from improved disease management. Instead, these measured improvements in functioning may reflect environmental, technological, and/or socioeconomic changes. Improvements in the more severe forms of disability were modest and were restricted to those suffering from particular illnesses, which make improved and/or more aggressive management a plausible explanation and one that might increase costs should the trend persist.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14811.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14811.

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    Date of creation: Mar 2009
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    Publication status: published as Aranovich G, Bhattacharya J , Garber A, MaCurdy T, “Coping with Chronic Disease? Chronic Disease and Disability in Elderly American Population 1982 ‐ 1999,” Forum for Health Economics & Policy. 2009.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14811
    Note: AG HC HE
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2001. "The Rise in Disability Recipiency and the Decline in Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 8336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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, vol. 56(4), pages S206-S218.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
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