Disability-Free Life Expectancy in England over the Past Decade: Trends Differ across Genders and Levels of Disability

Benedetta Pongiglione , Bocconi University
George Ploubidis, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Bianca De Stavola, UCL GOS Institute of Child Health Faculty of Pop Health Sciences

There is increasing interest in the use of health expectancy indicators to understand implications of population aging. We assess how disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) has evolved in the past decade in England distinguishing four levels of disability, and explore differences across gender and severity levels. We use data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to measure disability. Disability is defined following the WHO’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, and classes estimated using latent class analysis. DFLE is calculated at the time of the first wave, 2002, and a decade after, applying Sullivan method. We identified four distinct classes of disability (no disability, mild, moderate and severe). Changes in DFLE observed between 2002 and 2012 differed across gender and disability classes. Between 2002 and 2012, gains in life expectancy were accompanied by small gains in years with any disability level in men, while for women only years with mild disability increased. A dynamic equilibrium of disability for women and an expansion for men were found. Our findings highlight the importance of distinguishing severe and milder disability levels, because their trends seem to be divergent; and to consider both proportional and absolute changes in health expectancy to quantify the burden of disability.

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 Presented in Session 80. Healthy Life Expectancies I