A Decomposition of Gender Differences in Functional Health and Mortality among Older Adults in Beijing

Toshiko Kaneda, Population Reference Bureau (PRB)
Xianghua Fang, Beijing Municipal Network for Health & Care of the Elderly
Zhe Tang, Beijing Municipal Network for Health & Care of the Elderly

Our objectives are three-fold: to examine the sex difference in mortality among older adults in China over a five-year period, to decompose this difference into one part due to differential exposure to risk factors and another part due to differential impact of risk factors, and to examine the relative importance of groups of risk factors—-socioeconomic status (SES), access to healthcare, health behaviors, social support, and psychological characteristics—-in explaining the difference. We accomplish the latter two objectives by employing a decomposition technique that isolates the independent contributions of each factor through each pathway, net of other variables. Our results indicate that differential vulnerability to risk factors, more so than differential exposure, explains men’s mortality disadvantage, particularly their vulnerability to unhealthy behaviors such as smoking. Our results also show that women are more vulnerable to rural residence and that this plays a major role in reducing women’s mortality advantage.

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Presented in Poster Session 7