Ageing and Society

Psychological disposition and self-reported health among the ‘oldest-old’ in China

a1 Department of Sociology, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Article author query
wu z   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
schimmele cm   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


This study contributes to our understanding of the ageing process by investigating whether particular psychological dispositions among older people are associated with healthy ageing. The study's objective is to further our knowledge about what constitutes ‘health’ for the ‘oldest-old’ (people aged 80 or more years) in China. It is recognised that apart from the absence of disease, good health is a subjective experience, and it is posited that self-reported health is associated with psychological disposition, or in other words, that an individual's personal attitudes, motivations, and beliefs condition their perception of health and illness. Using data from China's Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (1998 and 2000 waves), we examine whether psychological disposition in 1998 had an independent effect on self-reported health in 2000. The study is based on a stratified random sample of 4,366 people aged 80 or more years. After introducing controls for health status and socio-demographic variables, the multivariate, longitudinal results demonstrate that a robust psychological disposition was indeed associated with good short-term, self-reported health. The findings also illustrate that the effect differed by age, for the relationship was significant for octogenarians and nonagenarians but insignificant for centenarians. Data limitations prevented an empirical investigation of the processes that underlie the relationship between psychological disposition and self-reported health.

(Published Online January 12 2006)
(Accepted June 20 2005)

Key Words: Psychological wellbeing; self-reported health; oldest-old; octogenarians; nonagenarians; centenarians.

c1 Department of Sociology, University of Victoria, PO Box 3050, Victoria, BC V8W 3P5, Canada. e-mail: [email protected]