Educational Gradients in Disability Among Asia’s Future Elderly: Projections for the Republic of Korea and Singapore

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Asia is home to the most rapidly aging populations in the world. This study focuses on two countries in Asia that are advanced in terms of their demographic transition: the Republic of Korea and Singapore. We developed a demographic and economic state-transition microsimulation model based on the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging and the Singapore Chinese Health Study.

The model was employed to compare projections of functional status and disability among future cohorts of older adults, including disparities in disability prevalence by educational attainment. The model also projects increasing disparities in the prevalence of activities-of-daily-living disability and other chronic diseases between those with low and high educational attainment.

Despite overall increases in educational attainment, all elderly, including those with a college degree, experience an increased burden of functional disability and chronic diseases because of survival to older ages. These increases have significant economic and social implications, including increased medical and long-term care expenditures, and an increased caregiver burden.