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Health among the oldest-old in China: Which living arrangements make a difference?

Publication Abstract

Li, Lydia W., J. Zhang, and Jersey Liang. 2009. "Health among the oldest-old in China: Which living arrangements make a difference?" Social Science & Medicine, 68(2): 220-227.

This study aims to (1) examine the association of living arrangements and health among oldest-old Chinese, and (2) investigate gender differences in the association of living arrangements and health. Data were from the first two waves of the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey, which included 9093 Chinese averaging 92 years old. Living arrangements had six mutually exclusive categories: living alone, with spouse, with children, with spouse and children, with others and in institutions. Using multinomial logistic regression. we found that baseline living arrangements are significantly associated with mortality, activities of daily living (ADL) disability, and self-rated health at Wave 2, controlling for baseline health, sociodemographic characteristics and availability of children. Further, the linkages between living arrangements and mortality vary by gender. Among the different living arrangements, having a spouse in the household (either with a spouse only or with both a spouse and children) provides the best health protection. Living alone and living with children are associated with both health advantages and disadvantages. Institutional living lowers mortality risk for men but not women. Living with others provides the least health benefits. Our study has extended the research on living arrangements and health to a unique population-the oldest-old in China-and clarified the health advantages and disadvantages of different living arrangements. Future research should examine the mechanisms linking living arrangements and health, and the experience of institutional living for men and women in China. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.10.013 (Full Text)

Country of focus: China.

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