Ageing and Society

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Ageing and Society (2009), 29:1141-1154 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © 2009 Cambridge University Press

Research Article

Relationships between age and gender differentials in health among older people in China


a1 Institute of Population Research, Xiamen University, China.
a2 Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, School of Medicine, Juntendo University, Japan.
a3 Department of Psychology, First Affiliated Hospital of Fujian Medical University, China.
Article author query
wang d [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
zheng j [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
kurosawa m [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
inaba y [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]


The objective of this paper is to specify the relationships between age and gender differentials in health among older people in China. The data were drawn from the 2002 Chinese Longitudinal Health Longevity Study (CLHLS), which included 15,789 respondents aged 65 or more years. The health indicators included the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Instrumental ADL scores, cognitive ability (using the Mini Mental State Examination), visual function, hearing or auditory function, number of natural teeth, self-reported health, and self-reported quality of life. The statistical significance of the age relationships was examined using Mann-Whitney U tests and Spearman's rank correlation coefficients. The principal results were that above 65 years of age, gender differentials were observed in most of the health indicators at most ages, although self-rated quality of life was an exception. For most of the objective (observer-rated) health indicators, the gender differentials increased with greater age, but that for the number of natural teeth decreased with age. Gender differentials in the two subjective health measures had no significant relationship with age. It is concluded that older Chinese women have poorer health than men and are in many ways disadvantaged, and that the relative disadvantage increases with age. Chinese women tend to live longer and suffer ill-health more than men.

(Accepted January 20 2009)

(Online publication June 11 2009)

Key Words:older people; China; health indicator; age relationships; gender differentials; health differentials


c1 Address for correspondence: Dewen Wang, School of Public Affairs, Xiamen University, Xiamen, China 361005. E-mails: or