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Changing Gender Differences in Old Age – Self-Reported Health in UK Yiu-tung Suen DPhil Sociology Candidate University of Oxford

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Presentation on theme: "Changing Gender Differences in Old Age – Self-Reported Health in UK Yiu-tung Suen DPhil Sociology Candidate University of Oxford"— Presentation transcript:

1 Changing Gender Differences in Old Age – Self-Reported Health in UK Yiu-tung Suen DPhil Sociology Candidate University of Oxford

2 Summary Data: General Household Survey time- series data Exploration of changes in self-reported health for men and women aged 65 or above Cohort Effect: Earlier Life Experience Period: Historical Time

3 Results Significant gender difference in reporting poor health for those born between 1880 and 1920, the difference was not observed for those born between 1921 and It is also found that compared to the 1970s and 1980s, gender difference in reporting poor health in old age decreased in the 1990s and diminished to a negligible level in the 2000s.

4 Conclusion Conclusion: Challenge the conventional understanding of comparative disadvantage of older women in the literature and it is concluded that historical timing plays an important role in the relationship between gender and ageing.

5 Structure Background Research Questions and Hypothesis Data and Methods Results Discussion and Conclusions

6 Introduction Rapidly Ageing Population At the same time, both in the developed and developing world, there were more women than men among those who were aged over 60 and over 80 (United Nations 2002: 26).

7 Population by Age and Sex (Number in Thousands), UK Source: Mid-2006 Population Estimates, Office of National Statistics, UK

8 One-sex view of gender when the needs of older people were discussed (Knodel and Ofstedal 2003: 677) Policy discussions of gender and ageing Introduction

9 Such claims present us with at least three major potential pitfalls: Neglecting other stratification variables such as class, education and marital status The statements were not time-specific. The statements were not location-specific. Introduction

10 Academic Literature Similarly, the ageing literature is biased towards focusing on older women. The focus shifted from older men in the 1940s to 1960s, to older women in the 1970s to 1990s, and to a call for a more balanced approach in recent years, from the late 1990s to the 2000s.

11 Because of such a shift of focus to older women, it even led to the description that the field of gerontology has been feminized. Some studies on older people ascribe gender as an aspect that only concerns women (Krekula 2007: 160). Academic Literature

12 Changing Gender Relations in the UK in late 1800s and 1900s Early Years Golden Years The intermission Modern movement

13 Historical Timing and Cohort Replacement Historical timing plays an important part in determining the environment in which men and women grow up. This idea may be better theorized in terms of the idea of cohort. A cohort refers to persons who are born in the same time interval and age together (Ryder 1965: 844).

14 As numerous authors have suggested, earlier life stages are inextricably related to later life, and this is usually referred to the life course approach (e.g. Elder 1975, Glen 1994, Arber and Evandrou 1997, Glen et al. 2003, Settersten 2006). Such an approach emphasizes that human development is a life-long process, and therefore old age can not be understood completely without referring to the stages before it. Historical Timing and Cohort Replacement

15 Research Question The aim of this research is to examine the change in gender differences in old age through cohorts and historical time. The main research question is therefore Have gender differences in old age changed through cohorts and historical time?

16 Research Question Previous research has widely studied and recognized the relative economic insecurity and lower pension received by women in old age. However, in other areas research findings regarding gender differences in old age have observed conflicting results. One example of such is self-reported health.

17 Hypotheses Hypothesis 1: It is hypothesized that there is a decrease in gender difference in health in old age through cohorts. Hypothesis 2: It is hypothesized that because of cohort replacement, there is a decrease in gender difference in health in old age through historical time.

18 Data GHS time-series dataset Exclusive advantage to analyse trends in social inequalities over the last 30 years (Uren 2006:1) 71 variables that were asked repeatedly in most of the waves of the survey. Variables that were only available for a few years or had substantially changed over time were not included in the dataset. Therefore, the change in gender differences in health through time can be tested.

19 Possible Limitations Pseudo-cohort analysis. As the GHS is a cross-sectional rather than a panel study, individuals surveyed were not the same from year to year. This being the case, the same individuals were not followed throughout their life course as in the ideal situation for a cohort study (Glenn 2003). However, very few publicly available datasets in the UK contain information of individuals in old age, when the longitudinal datasets made available on the Economic and Social Data Service website (accessed 2008) are considered. Hence, although the GHS survey can only provide pseudo-cohort analysis, it appears to be the best dataset in the UK available to test the cohort replacement effect.

20 Sample Those who were 65 or older at the time of interview. 122, 678 cases over the years fit into this age range. However, the main dependent variable, self- reported health, was only available starting from 1977; cases before 1977 were dropped. 95,783 cases from 1977 through 2004 were kept for analysis.

21 Variables Dependent Variable: Self-reported health Independent Variables Gender Cohort Time

22 Results: Cohorts CohortMaleFemaleX 2 (1)Pr 1881/ / / Percentage Reporting Poor Health: by Gender and Cohort Group

23 Results: Cohorts Percentage Reporting Poor Health: by Gender and Cohort

24 Results: Cohorts Gender Difference in Reporting Poor Health (Percentage Point: by Cohort and Age Note: Gender Difference=% of Female Reporting Poor Health – % of Male Reporting Poor health

25 Results: Period Percentage Reporting Poor Health: by Gender and Year

26 Gender Difference in Reporting Poor Health (Percentage Point): by Year and Age Note: Gender Difference=% of Female Reporting Poor Health – % of Male Reporting Poor Health

27 Conclusions Misery perspective or the comparative disadvantage paradigm in the conventional understanding of gender and ageing is inadequate The need for statistical analysis for men and women separately, rather than only treating gender as a variable in the whole dataset

28 Conclusions More older men are reporting poor health over time requires renewed policy and resource distribution The trend shown in the results suggests that more studies on older men concerning their health are not only desired but necessary

29 Yiu-tung Suen DPhil Sociology Candidate University of Oxford Thank You


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