Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 243–261 | Cite as

Short-term Trends in Functional Limitation and Disability Among Older Asians: A Comparison of Five Asian Settings

  • Mary Beth Ofstedal
  • Zachary Zimmer
  • Albert I. Hermalin
  • Angelique Chan
  • Yi-Li Chuang
  • Josefina Natividad
  • Zhe Tang
Original Article


The objective of this paper is to examine short-term trends in the prevalence of limitation in Activities of Daily Living (ADL), Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) and Nagi physical functioning tasks among persons age 60 years or older in five Asian settings: Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and the Beijing Municipality. The data come from recent panel surveys of older adults that span a period of 3–4 years during the mid to late 1990s. Results suggest a general trend toward an increase in functional limitation in four of the five settings, with the most pronounced increases occurring for the Nagi functioning tasks. Compositional differences in the population accounted for little of the increase. The paper discusses the potential implications of these results and places them in the context of past and current trends in functional limitation observed in the United States.


Short-term trends Functional limitation Disability 



This research was undertaken as part of the Comparative Study of Health Transitions in Later Life, supported by parallel grants from the National Institute on Aging, R01 AG20072-01 and R01 AG20063-01. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Washington, DC, November 2004. We wish to thank the editor and three anonymous reviewers for their excellent comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Beth Ofstedal
    • 1
  • Zachary Zimmer
    • 2
  • Albert I. Hermalin
    • 1
  • Angelique Chan
    • 3
  • Yi-Li Chuang
    • 4
  • Josefina Natividad
    • 5
  • Zhe Tang
    • 6
  1. 1.Population Studies CenterUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  4. 4.Bureau of Health PromotionDepartment of HealthTaichungTaiwan
  5. 5.Department of SociologyUniversity of the PhilippinesQuezon CityPhilippines
  6. 6.Beijing Municipal Network for Health & Care of the ElderlyBeijingChina

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