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Gender and Well-Being of Older Persons in Cambodia

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionKnodel, John E., and Zachary S. Zimmer. 2009. "Gender and Well-Being of Older Persons in Cambodia." PSC Research Report No. 09-665. January 2009.

This study represents the first systematic attempt to assess the relation between gender and the well-being of older persons in Cambodia, with reference to health, demographic, social support and economic indicators. The context is one in which the numerical dominance of women among the older age population is unusually pronounced due to a past history of civil unrest and violence. Our results, based primarily on the 2004 Survey of Elderly in Cambodia (SEC), reveal both differences and similarities between the sexes. Elderly women are far less likely than men to have a surviving spouse or to be literate, although even for men educational levels are quite low. Women report worse self-assessed health and more health symptoms and physical functioning problems than men but have higher survival rates. Seeing and hearing problems are reported fairly equally. Older men and women differ little in terms of social contact with and material support from children and very few appear deserted by their family. Although men are more likely than women to have work or pension income, there is little gender difference in a number of indicators of material well being including housing quality, household possessions, and self assessed economic situation. Although a conclusive advantage or disadvantage is not evident for any one sex across most dimensions, there are considerable variations in characteristics and circumstances. Recognition of these variations can be useful for understanding the unique needs of men and women in a country in which many older people have lived difficult lives, having faced harsh circumstances related to war and poverty.

Country of focus: Cambodia.

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