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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 May 22;98(11):6354-9. Epub 2001 May 8.

Changes in the prevalence of chronic disability in the United States black and nonblack population above age 65 from 1982 to 1999.

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  • 1Center for Demographic Studies, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.


Survey evidence through the early 1990s generally suggests a reduction in disability in the elderly population of the United States. Because the evidence is not fully consistent, several authors have speculated about whether disability declines will continue. This paper reports results from the 1999 National Long-Term Care Survey on disability trends from 1982 through 1999. It is found that disability continued to decline in the 1994 to 1999 period, and that the decline was greater in the 1990s than in the 1980s. The disability decline from 1982 to 1989 was 0.26% per year, from 1989 to 1994 it was 0.38% per year, and from 1994 to 1999 it was 0.56% per year. In addition, disability declined by a greater percentage for blacks than for nonblacks over the 1989 to 1999 period.

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