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Demography. 2000 Aug;37(3):267-83.

The racial crossover in comorbidity, disability, and mortality.

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  • 1Sociology Department, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824-1111, USA.


This study analyzed one respondent per household who was age 70 or more at the time of the household's inclusion in Wave 1 (1993-1994) and whose survival status was determinable at Wave 2 (1995-1996) of the Survey on Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD Survey). At age 76 at Wave 1, there was a racial crossover in the cumulative number of six potentially fatal diagnoses (chronic lung disease, cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and stroke) from a higher cumulative average number for blacks to a higher average number for whites. Also, there was a racial crossover at age 86 in the cumulative average number of disabilities in the Advanced Activities of Daily Living (AADLs), from a higher average for blacks to a higher average for whites. Between Waves 1 and 2, there was a racial crossover in the odds of mortality from higher odds for blacks to higher odds for whites; this occurred at about age 81. The results are consistent with the interpretation that the racial crossover in comorbidity (but not the crossover in AADL disability) propelled the racial crossover in mortality.

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