Patterns of Active Life among Older Women: Differences Within and between Groups

Douglas A. Wolf, Sarah B. Laditka, James N. Laditka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This study examines the distribution of total, unimpaired, and impaired life for several groups of older women defined by race, education, and marital history. Using data from the 1984-1990 Longitudinal Study of Aging, we model transitions among functional statuses using discrete-time Markov chains, and use microsimulation to produce summary indices of active life. Remaining years of life and the proportion of remaining years with disability vary substantially, both within each group of women studied and between pairs of groups. Of all groups studied, never-married, more-educated white women live the longest, healthiest lives. Ever-married nonwhite women with low education have the shortest life expectancy, and experience the most disability. Our findings show that life expectancy is an incomplete indicator of the time women, in particular sub-groups, can expect to live with and without impairment. These findings highlight the heterogeneity of disability processes and life expectancy for older women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-25
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Women and Aging
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Active life expectancy
  • Disability
  • Functional status
  • Markovchain
  • Microsimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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