Differences in Disability Among Black and White Elderly
Clark, Robert J.
As the baby-boom generation reaches retirement age and as longevity continues to increase, our nation potentially faces a long-term care crisis that could significantly increase health care expenditures. Identifying at-risk populations could help policymakers craft interventions designed to reduce disability and the number of people who rely on long-term care. Previous research has shown that black elderly suffer from higher rates of disability than their white counterparts. It remains unclear, however, how this disparity changes over time. To the extent that black elderly suffer from increasing rates of disability throughout old age, they could represent a significant driving force on future long-term care expenditures. This is especially true considering the racial mortality gap decreases with age. According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging, at age 65, white persons can expect to live an average of 2 years longer than black persons (2002). Among those who survive to age 85, however, the life expectancy among black persons is slightly higher than among white persons (Federal Interagency Forum on Aging, 2002). The goal of this study is to examine changes in age-specific rates of disability across racial groups. The first section of the paper provides the reader with a background and review of the relevant literature, followed by a description of the data and methods used. The next section presents the results, followed by a discussion of the findings and a conclusion.
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