Can time heal all wounds? An empirical assessment of adaptation to functional limitations
Self-reported satisfaction with life and health are key variables in economic evaluations of health policies. Individuals with a similar objective health may differ in their subjective assessment because of time-invariant traits, but ratings will also differ within one individual over time if one adapts to disabilities. However, to date there is little empirical evidence to which extent these variables are influenced by adaptation to enduring bad health. This paper studies adaptation to chronic disability in 5000 respondents of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) who develop disabilities during the span of the 6 waves of data collection. In order to examine the effect of time since the onset of disability on self-perceived health and life satisfaction, a fixed effects ordered logit model is used. We found evidence supporting adaptation in life satisfaction, but not in self-perceived health. This difference may be explained by the contextualization of the response variables, where the question on self-perceived health is more focused on health limitations and the question on life satisfaction on general well-being.