Explaining Gender Differences in Functional Health and Mortality among Older Adults in Beijing

Toshiko Kaneda, Population Reference Bureau
Zachary Zimmer, Population Council
Xianghua Fang, Beijing Municipal Network for Health & Care of the Elderly
Zhe Tang, Beijing Municipal Network for Health & Care of the Elderly

This paper examines gender differences in the transitions in functional health and mortality over a five-year period among older adults (55+) in Beijing, and the extent to which they can be explained by a detailed set of social, economic, psychosocial and physiological factors. Data come from the 1992 and 1997 waves of the Beijing Multidimensional Longitudinal Study of Aging (N=3,257). We use the regression-based Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition approach to examine the relative importance of the mediating factors in explaining the effect of gender. Preliminary analysis shows strong gender differences in functional status and mortality. Among mediating factors, health behaviors play a particularly large role in explaining men's higher probability of dying, while socioeconomic conditions and health care access play a large role in explaining women's greater tendency to experience functional declines over a five-year period. We will compare our findings to those reported in previous studies conducted in the West.

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Presented in Session 5: Aging in Developing Countries