Health at Older AgesThe Causes and Consequences of Declining Disability Among the Elderly

Health at Older AgesThe Causes and Consequences of Declining Disability Among the Elderly

David M. Cutler and David A. Wise

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226132310

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Americans are living longer—and staying healthier longer—than ever before. Despite the rapid disappearance of pensions and health care benefits for retirees, older people are healthier and better off than they were twenty years ago. In this book, a team of economists analyzes the foundations of disability decline, quantifies this phenomenon in economic terms, and proposes what might be done to accelerate future improvements in the health of our most elderly populations. The volume argues that educational attainment, high socioeconomic status, an older retirement age, and accessible medical care have improved the health and quality of life of seniors. Along the way, it outlines the economic benefits of disability decline, such as an increased rate of seniors in the workplace, relief for the healthcare system and care-giving families, and reduced medical expenses for the elderly themselves.

Table of Contents


David M. Cutler, David A. Wise, and Richard G. Woodbury

I Disability Trends

2 Arthritis

Paula Canavese and Robert W. Fogel

3 Socioeconomic and Demographic Disparities in Trends in Old-Age Disability

Robert F. Schoeni, Vicki A. Freedman, and Linda G. Martin

II Pathways to Disability

4 Pathways to Disability

Florian Heiss, Axel Börsch-Supan, Michael Hurd and David A. Wise

5 Clinical Pathways to Disability

Mary Beth Landrum, Kate A. Stewart, and David M. Cutler

III Medical Advances and Disability

6 Intensive Medical Care and Cardiovascular Disease Disability Reductions

David M. Cutler, Mary Beth Landrum, and Kate A. Stewart

7 Are Baby Boomers Aging Better Than Their Predecessors?

Suzanne G. Leveille, Christina C. Wee, and Lisa I. Iezzoni

8 Disability and Spending Growth

Michael E. Chernew, Dana Goldman, Feng Pan, and Baoping Shang

IV Work Disability

10 Disability Risk and the Value of Disability Insurance

Amitabh Chandra and Andrew A. Samwick

11 Why are the Disability Rolls Skyrocketing?

Mark Duggan and Scott A. Imberman

12 Early Retirement and DI/SSI Applications

Rena M. Conti, Ernst R. Berndt, and Richard G. Frank

V Assistive Technology and Caregiving

13 Trends in Assistance with Daily Activities: Racial/Ethnic and Socioeconomic Disparities Persist in the U.S. Older Population

Vicki A. Freedman, Linda G. Martin, Jennifer Cornman, Emily M. Agree, and Robert F. Schoeni

15 Inter-Spousal Mortality Effects

Nicholas A. Christakis and Paul D. Allison