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Perceived economic situation, but not education level, is associated with disability prevalence in the Spanish elderly: observational study

AuthorsRodríguez Laso, Ángel; Abellán García, Antonio ; Sancho, Mayte; Pujol Rodríguez, Rogelio ; Montorio, Ignacio; Díaz-Veiga, Purificación
Disabled persons
Social class
Issue Date7-May-2014
PublisherBioMed Central
CitationBMC Geriatrics 14: 60 (2014)
Abstract[Background] The aim of this paper is to ascertain if the subjective perception of the economic situation of a household is associated with the prevalence of disability in old age, net of education level. Subjective economic perception is less non-response biased. Knowing if the self-perceived economic situation is related to disability over and above education level has important implications both for understanding the mechanisms that lead to disability and for selecting policies to reduce it.
[Methods] This is a transversal study based on the pilot of the ELES survey, which is a representative survey of non-institutionalised Spaniards aged 50 and over. Only individuals whose job income levels were fixed before becoming disabled were selected to avoid the main source of reverse causality. Disability was defined as having difficulty in carrying out any of 12 activities of daily living. Education level, difficulty in making ends meet, self-perceived relative economic position of the household, age, gender, psychological disposition, and alcohol and tobacco consumption were introduced as independent variables in binary logistic models.
[Results] The working sample is made up of 704 individuals of aged 60 and over. The subjective household economic situation, measured in two different ways, is strongly and consistently related with the prevalence of disability net of age, gender, education level and psychological disposition. After adjusting for age and gender, education level is no longer associated with disability. However, having economic difficulties has the same effect on disability prevalence as being 10 years older, or being a woman instead of a man.
[Conclusions] As the economic situation of the elderly is much easier to improve than their formal education, our findings support feasible interventions which could lead to a reduction in the prevalence of disability.
Publisher version (URL)https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2318-14-60
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