Trends in the Prevalence of Work Disability from 1962 to 1984, and Their Correlates

Self-reported disability has increased in recent decades among working-age persons, while age-specified mortality rates conversely have fallen. Current Population Survey data permit defining a statistical measure of disability based on the presence of work limitations and/or receipt of disability transfers tied to health-constrained employment. The proportions of people meeting the definition graphically trace a hump-shaped pattern, rising from the 1960s to peaks in the mid to late 1970s, at which time downturns occur. Changes in impairment/pathology alone are unlikely to account for the observed pattern; more plausibly, the changes are due to individuals’ propensity to report health problems as the reason for constrained work or to receive disability transfers.

Author(s): Barbara L. Wolfe; Robert Haveman

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Volume 68, Issue 1 (pages 53–80)
Published in 1990