Disability Items From the Current Population Survey (2008-2015) and Permanent Versus Temporary Disability Status

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To examine longitudinal responses to the disability indicator questions that have been adopted as the standard across national surveys sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services.


Data from the Current Population Survey between 2008 and 2015 were linked to create a longitudinal sample of 721 178 individual respondents.


Responses to the disability questions fluctuated significantly. Although 17% of all respondents reported a disability at some point, only 3% consistently reported the same set of disabilities. Demographic differences were found between people who always reported a consistent set of disabilities and those whose responses fluctuated.


The disability questions capture 2 discrete groups: people who experience a permanent disability and those who experience a temporary disability. Demographic differences between these groups suggest that this is not simply due to measurement error.

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