Disability among Urban and Rural Elderly in China: Explaining Disparities Using Individual- and Community-Level Characteristics

Toshiko Kaneda, Population Reference Bureau (PRB)
Zachary Zimmer, University of Utah
Kaiti Zhang, China Research Center on Aging

It is known that living standards and ways of life differ between people in urban versus rural areas of developing countries. These differences likely have implications for health. There is, however, little research to date that has examined this in the context of development. Therefore, we use China as an example, and first contrast disability status among older adults in urban versus rural areas and then examine a series of individual- and community-level factors that may account for the differences in disability by place of residence. Our preliminary results show urban residence is inversely associated with disability in old age, while SES, social support, healthcare resources, and health related behaviors, both at individual- and community-levels, are important in predicting old age disability and explaining the urban-rural disparities. Given global trends in population aging and urbanization, these results have implications for policies on improving overall health.

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Presented in Session 51: Factors Influencing Health in Later Life: Evidence from Developing Countries