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Gender inequality in self-reported health among the elderly in contemporary welfare countries: A cross-country analysis of time use activities, socioeconomic positions and family characteristics

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  • Nicholas Kofi Adjei
  • Tilman Brand
  • Hajo Zeeb

Abstract

Background: Paradoxically, despite their longer life expectancy, women report poorer health than men. Time devoted to differing social roles could be an explanation for the observed gender differences in health among the elderly. The objective of this study was to explain gender differences in self-reported health among the elderly by taking time use activities, socio-economic positions, family characteristics and cross-national differences into account. Methods: Data from the Multinational Time Use Study (MTUS) on 13,223 men and 18,192 women from Germany, Italy, Spain, UK and the US were analyzed. Multiple binary logistic regression models were used to examine the association between social factors and health for men and women separately. We further identified the relative contribution of different factors to total gender inequality in health using the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition method. Results: Whereas time allocated to paid work, housework and active leisure activities were positively associated with health, time devoted to passive leisure and personal activities were negatively associated with health among both men and women, but the magnitude of the association varied by gender and country. We found significant gender differences in health in Germany, Italy and Spain, but not in the other countries. The decomposition showed that differences in the time allocated to active leisure and level of educational attainment accounted for the largest health gap. Conclusions: Our study represents a first step in understanding cross-national differences in the association between health status and time devoted to role-related activities among elderly men and women. The results, therefore, demonstrate the need of using an integrated framework of social factors in analyzing and explaining the gender and cross-national differences in the health of the elderly population.

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  • Nicholas Kofi Adjei & Tilman Brand & Hajo Zeeb, 2017. "Gender inequality in self-reported health among the elderly in contemporary welfare countries: A cross-country analysis of time use activities, socioeconomic positions and family characteristics," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 12(9), pages 1-24, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:plo:pone00:0184676
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0184676
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Theun Pieter Tienoven & Lyn Craig & Ignace Glorieux & Joeri Minnen, 0. "Active Participation and Well-Being Among the Elderly in Belgium and the USA: A Cross-National Time-Use Perspective," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-20.

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