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Schoeni, Robert F., Jersey Liang, J. Bennett, H. Sugisawa, T. Fukaya, and E. Kobayashi. 2006. "Trends in Old-Age Functioning and Disability in Japan, 1993-2002." Population Studies, 60(1): 39-53.
Disability is a burden to individuals and society. Population ageing, combined with the fact that disability is most common among the elderly, has focused attention on trends in old-age disability. This study estimates trends in functioning and disability among Japanese elderly from 1993 to 2002 and contrasts the patterns with those found in the USA. Japan is an especially interesting country because its age structure is relatively old, and it currently has the highest life expectancy in the world despite the fact that just 50 years ago its life expectancy was in the bottom half of all countries. As in the USA, disability rates have fallen. If it were not for the gains in disability between 1993 and 2002, there would have been 1.1 million more disabled elderly in 2002. The reductions were experienced broadly across socio-demographic and economic groups. Increases in education across cohorts are associated with the declines in disability.