Chapter

Introduction

Edited by David A. Wise

in Research Findings in the Economics of Aging

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780226903064
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226903088 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226903088.003.0001
Introduction

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This chapter provides an overview of the studies contained in the volume, relying to a significant extent on the authors' own language to summarize their findings. The chapters in the volume consider work and retirement behavior, work disability, and their relationship to the structure of retirement and disability policies. These issues are central to discussions of population aging and its impact, because the ages at which people leave the labor force, whether through retirement or disability, define the effective dependency ratio in the population and, by consequence, the associated economic strain that we collectively confront. In many past studies of disability trends, a consistent finding is the strong correlation between education and functional ability. Those with more education are less likely to develop functional limitations and appear to cope more effectively with functional limitations when they do develop. The authors of this book note that nearly half of elderly people with less than a high school degree report some difficulty caring for themselves; whereas only about a quarter of college graduates report that they are disabled. The lower disability rate among those who are better educated results in substantial differences in health and medical spending, in employment and earnings, and in many aspects of functional independence. Understanding why education is related to disability and whether changes in education have contributed to disability declines is thus a central policy concern.

Keywords: disability rate; central policy; aging; health; retirement

Chapter.  6561 words. 

Subjects: Economics

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