Black-white differences in self-reported disability outcomes in the u.s. Early childhood to older adulthood

Amani M. Nuru-Jeter, Roland J. Thorpe, Esme Fuller-Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective. We examined black-white differences in activities of daily living (ADLs), functional limitations (FLs), vision/hearing/sensory impairment, and memory/learning problems in a large, nationally representative sample of community-dwelling and institutionalized people across the lifespan. Methods. Data are from the 2006 American Community Survey (n52,288,800). We included data on non-Hispanic black respondents (125,985 males and 145,780 females) and non-Hispanic white respondents (977,792 males and 1,039,243 females) ≥5 years of age. We used logistic regression to examine the black-white odds for each disability outcome. The overall response rate was 97.5%. Results. For FLs, ADL limitations, and memory/learning problems, black people experienced higher odds of disability across the adult lifespan compared with white people. Black-white differences narrowed in older age. For vision/hearing problems, a black-white crossover was found in older age (≥85 years), where odds of vision/hearing problems were lower among black people than among white people. For all disability outcomes, black-white differences peaked in midlife (50-69 years of age), with black people having approximately 1.5 to two times the odds of disabilities as their white peers. Conclusions. The study findings suggest the need to address black-white disparities across a range of disability outcomes throughout the lifespan. Future work identifying the factors accounting for this pattern of disparities will help inform the development of appropriate prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)834-843
Number of pages10
JournalPublic health reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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