Are Differences in Disability-Free Life Expectancy by Gender, Race and Education Wider at Older Ages? 1986-2006

Aïda Solé-Auró, Universitat de Barcelona and University of Southern California

This paper examines change in disability-free life expectancy at age 60 by gender, race and education in the U.S. over a ten year period: from 1991 to 2001. To estimate mortality we used data on mortality to members of the NHIS from 1986-1995 and 1996-2006 by education, race, and sex for 10 year periods following their participation in the survey for adults aged 60 years and older. To estimates disability we used data from the NHANES of 1988-1994 and 1999-2002. Racial differences in healthy life expectancy persist across time, but educational differences are even larger in healthy life expectancy as compared to total life expectancy. Educational differences in disability-free life expectancy in the U.S. are increasing, except for black males that showed a reduction over time in educational differentials in healthy life. Understanding differences in mortality gaps is essential to understanding the meaning of differences in HLE.

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Presented in Session 63: Fatal and Non-Fatal Health Outcomes: Comparing Expected Length and Quality of Life by Gender, Race, and National Origin