Differential effects of aging in place on disability among black and white elderly

Marlene A. Lee, Population Reference Bureau (PRB)
Joachim Singelmann, University of Texas at San Antonio

The black health disadvantage, including old-age disability, is well-known and persists over the life course, although it is smaller in the older population. Health disparities between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites begin to emerge in early adulthood and continue to widen through middle age. Both race and place of residence play a role in shaping health status and disability, and these effects are cumulative in a way that ages African Americans prematurely, resulting in greater functional limitations and disability. This paper analyzes the functional limitations and disabilities of African Americans age 65 and older by using the concepts measured in the 2009 American Community Survey. Place is essential to understand different outcomes for racial and ethnic groups; we therefore examine black-white disability differentials in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas and in the south and nonsouth regions. We compare the disability status of residents in metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas (southern states and other states) by race. Preliminary results show that all else equal, living in the U.S. South and nonmetropolitan residence increases the odds of disability for an elderly person. The disadvantage of nonmetropolitan residence is greatest for a native-born black man in the U.S. but may also be observed for black women, whites, and foreign-born blacks. The effect of being foreign-born improves the log-odds of not being disabled by almost as much as being a nonmetropolitan residence increases the log-odds of being disabled. Southern residence also increases the odds of disability.

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Presented in Poster Session 3

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