Burden of Aging in Developing Countries: Disability Transitions in Mexico Compared to the United States

Rebeca Wong, University of Texas Medical Branch
Gerst Kerstin, University of Georgia
Alejandra Michaels-Obregon, University of Texas Medical Branch

This paper examines the burden of aging in developing countries by contrasting disability transitions among elders in Mexico with elders in the U.S. We hypothesize that elders in Mexico are survivors of infectious epidemiological environments during childhood and youth, while experiencing a mixed epidemiological environment of chronic diseases and communicable diseases in old age. This implies more severe disability consequences than current elders in the U.S., who have not been exposed to such conditions. Data comes from the Mexican Health and Aging Study (MHAS) and the U.S. Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Estimated probabilities of two-year transitions among disability states and mortality are presented for adults over age 50. The findings reject the initial hypothesis and suggest that the current burden of disability in old age is lighter for a developing country compared to a developed society. We discuss the implications, possible explanations, likely future scenarios, and further research directions.

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Presented in Session 60: Health and Mortality - International Experiences