Zimmer, Zachary, and Hui-Sheng Lin. 2000. "Changes in Prevalence and Transition Rates of Functioning Difficulties, and Limitation Severity, Among Older Adults in Taiwan: 1989 to 1996." Elderly in Asia Report No. 00-57. September 2000.
This paper examines changes in functional health among older Taiwanese between 1989 and 1996. Some contrasts are made to the improvements in functional health that have been witnessed in the United States over a similar time period. Measures of functioning include difficulties lifting, climbing stairs, and walking a given distance. Both existence of and severity of functional difficulties are investigated. Prevalence rates are examined in order to determine whether there have been improvements in the reporting of functional difficulty on a population-wide level, while transition models, which include mortality, are constructed in order to determine whether a smaller proportion of the older population in Taiwan moved into states of disability, and whether a larger proportion improved status, during the latter part of the study period. Prevalence and transition rates are adjusted for compositional variables, and in the case of transitions, for inter-survey intervals. The analyses suggest several phenomenon have been taking place simultaneously in Taiwan. There have been reductions in mortality, increases in the probability of an onset of functional difficulty and improvements in rates of recovery for those who have functional difficulties. Although these represent mixed findings, it might be interpreted in a positive light for a society that has only recently moved its economy and mortality rates to Western equivalence.