Fifteen papers, originally presented at a National Bureau of Economic Research conference held in October 2004, examine the improvements over time in the functional abilities of older people, what might be done to extend and accelerate future improvements in functional ability, and how the benefits of disability decline can be evaluated and quantified in economic terms. Papers discuss the health of older men in the past; arthritis--changes in its prevalence during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; socioeconomic and demographic disparities in trends in old age disability; pathways to disability--predicting health trajectories; clinical pathways to disability; intensive medical care and cardiovascular disease disability reductions; whether baby boomers are aging better than their predecessors--trends in overweight, arthritis, and mobility difficulty; disability and spending growth; work disability in England, the Netherlands, and the United States; disability risk and the value of disability insurance; why the disability rolls are skyrocketing--the contributions of population characteristics, economic conditions, and program generosity; early retirement and Disability Insurance/Supplemental Security Insurance applications--exploring the impact of depression; trends in assistance with daily activities--racial-ethnic and socioeconomic disparities persist in the U.S. older population; how medicare beneficiaries with physical and sensory disabilities feel about their healthcare; and interspousal mortality effects--caregiver burden across the spectrum of disabling disease.


Cutler, David M., and David A. Wise, eds. Health at Older Ages: The Causes and Consequences of Declining Disability among the Elderly. National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report Series, University of Chicago Press, 2009.