Health at Older Ages: The Causes and Consequences of Declining Disability among the Elderly

By David M. Cutler; David A. Wise | Go to book overview

2
Arthritis: Changes in Its Prevalence
during the Nineteenth and
Twentieth Centuries

Paula Canavese and Robert W. Fogel


2.1 Introduction

In this chapter we analyze the prevalence of arthritis and its progress over the lifecycle among Union Army veterans. We also compare patterns in arthritis among Union Army veterans with those among adult white males during the last quarter of the twentieth century.

The disease and its symptoms are described in section 2.2. Section 2.3 describes the data used to calculate the prevalence rates, and the results of our calculations are shown in section 2.4. Section 2.5 discusses factors that could affect the probability of having arthritis and the time survived with this disease. Section 2.6 summarizes our conclusions.


2.2 A Brief History of the Classifications and Treatment of Arthritis

Arthritis1 is defined as a deforming disease of the joints, regarded by most authorities as distinct from gout and rheumatism,2 and characterized

Paula Canavese received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 2005 and
is currently a Manager at Deloitte Tax LLP. Robert W. Fogel is director of the Center for Pop-
ulation Economics and Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor, Graduate
School of Business at the University of Chicago, and a research associate of the National Bu-
reau of Economic Research.

This work is part of the NBER Project on Disability, which is supported by National Insti-
tute on Aging grants P30 AG12810 and R01 AG19805, and the Mary Woodard Lasker Char-
itable Trust and Michael E. DeBakey Foundation. The views expressed are those of the
authors and not necessarily those of the Center for Population Economics. We would like to
thank Claudia Linares for help in arranging the Surgeon's Certificates data and other CPE
members for helpful comments. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health
under program project grant P01 AG10120.

1.From the Greek arthron, meaning “joint.”

2.The terms rheumatism and rheumatic diseases are still sometimes used to describe a range
of different conditions that affect the muscles, tendons, and other nonjoint tissues of the body.

-55-

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