Brighan Young University
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|January 2005||Work and the Disability Transition in 20th Century America|
with Sven Wilson, Joseph Burton: w11036
Using data from Union Army pensioners and from the National Health Interview Surveys, we estimate that work-disability among white males aged 45-64 was 3.5 times as high in the late 19th century than at the end of the 20th century, including a decline and flattening of the age-profile since 1970. We present a descriptive model of disability that can account for a) the secular decline in prevalence; b) changes in slope of the age-profile; and c) periods of increasing prevalence. The high level and relatively flat slope of the historical disability age-profile is consistent with the early onset of chronic conditions and with high mortality associated with a subset of those conditions. We show that many common conditions in the 19th century have been either eliminated, delayed to later ages, ...