FIGURE 2-1 Prevalence of activity limitation due to chronic conditions by degree of limitation and age, 1988. Source: National Center for Health Statistics, 1989a.

definition of major activity from work to activities of daily living. Another factor in this pattern is that older people are more likely to reside in nursing homes and similar institutional facilities. Because nursing home residents tend to have more severe activity limitations, adding in the institutionalized population would amplify the trend toward increasing severity of disability with age.

Adjusting for the differences in their age distribution, women have slightly lower prevalence rates of activity limitation than men: 12.9 percent vs. 13.2 percent, respectively (National Center for Health Statistics, 1990a). Because women outnumber men in the population and because they have an older age distribution, however, women account for more than 53 percent of the people with activity limitations. Above age 70, women make up 62 percent of the population with activity limitations (National Center for Health Statistics, 1989a).

Blacks experience a higher prevalence of activity limitation than whites—16.3 percent for blacks vs. 12.8 percent for whites—when differences in age distributions are taken into account. Furthermore, blacks are likely to experience a greater degree of activity limitation: the proportion unable to carry out their major activities is substantially higher for blacks (6.6 percent) than for whites (3.5 percent) (National Center for Health Statistics, 1990a).

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