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Gender and Aging in the Developing World: Where Are the Men?


  • John Knodel
  • Mary Beth Ofstedal


In recent years, both population aging and gender issues have gained prominence in international forums concerned with population. It is frequently asserted or implied that older women are universally more vulnerable to social, economic, and health disadvantages than older men. The most significant manifestation of this exclusive concern with women when considering gender and aging is the Plan of Action adopted by the Second World Assembly on Aging in 2002. The assumed relative disadvantage of elderly women is commonly attributed to gender differences in earlier life experiences. But are older women truly disadvantaged globally with respect to all or most essential aspects of well-being? The authors provide empirical evidence that clearly shows that older women are not invariably disadvantaged vis-à-vis men. In particular, they call into question the wisdom and equity of a virtually exclusive emphasis on the needs of women when incorporating gender concerns into policies and programs related to aging. A more balanced perspective that recognizes gender as a potential, but not necessarily central, marker of vulnerability for various aspects of well-being in specific settings and times, and that allows for male as well as female disadvantage, would serve the current and future elderly generations far better. Copyright 2003 by The Population Council, Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • John Knodel & Mary Beth Ofstedal, 2003. "Gender and Aging in the Developing World: Where Are the Men?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 29(4), pages 677-698.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:29:y:2003:i:4:p:677-698

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    Cited by:

    1. Kathryn Yount, 2009. "Gender and Intergenerational Co-residence in Egypt and Tunisia," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 28(5), pages 615-640, October.
    2. Anoshua Chaudhuri, 2009. "Spillover Impacts of a Reproductive Health Program on Elderly Women in Rural Bangladesh," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 113-125, June.
    3. Kathryn Yount & Zeinab Khadr, 2008. "Gender, Social Change, and Living Arrangements Among Older Egyptians During the 1990s," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 27(2), pages 201-225, April.
    4. Sara Randall & Ernestina Coast, 2016. "The quality of demographic data on older Africans," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 34(5), pages 143-174, January.
    5. Akshaya Kumar Panigrahi, 2009. "Determinants of Living Arrangements of Elderly in Orissa: An Analysis," Working Papers 228, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.
    6. Bennett, Rachel & Chepngeno-Langat, Gloria & Evandrou, Maria & Falkingham, Jane, 2016. "Gender differentials and old age survival in the Nairobi slums, Kenya," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 107-116.

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