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Measuring Differences in the Effect of Social Resource Factors on the Health of Elderly Canadian Men and Women


  • Steven G. Prus
  • Ellen Gee


It is well-documented that differences in the exposure to social resources play a significant role in influencing gender inequalities in health in old age. It is less clear in the literature if social factors have a differential impact on the health of older men and women. This paper examines gender differences in the patterns of social predictors of health among elderly persons. Using data from the 1998-1999 Canadian National Population Health Survey, the findings show that differences in socio-economic, lifestyle, and psychosocial resources contribute to variation in the health status of elderly persons in terms of self-rated health and functional and chronic health. Many of these predictors of health, however, differ in their effect on health between elderly males and females. The impact of age and exercise on health is larger for older women compared to older men, yet income, smoking, level of social support, and distress have a greater effect on health for older men than they do for older women. These gender differences have important policy implications for health-care promotion and delivery services. Health policy needs to reflect the underlying social determinants of health, and their differential influence on the health of elderly men and women.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven G. Prus & Ellen Gee, 2001. "Measuring Differences in the Effect of Social Resource Factors on the Health of Elderly Canadian Men and Women," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 58, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:58

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Macintyre, Sally & Hunt, Kate & Sweeting, Helen, 1996. "Gender differences in health: Are things really as simple as they seem?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 617-624, February.
    2. Walters, Vivienne & Lenton, Rhonda & French, Susan & Eyles, John & Mayr, Janet & Newbold, Bruce, 1996. "Paid work, unpaid work and social support: A study of the health of male and female nurses," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 43(11), pages 1627-1636, December.
    3. Arber, Sara & Cooper, Helen, 1999. "Gender differences in health in later life: the new paradox?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 61-76, January.
    4. Arber, Sara & Ginn, Jay, 1993. "Gender and inequalities in health in later life," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 33-46, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sarma, Sisira & Hawley, Gordon & Basu, Kisalaya, 2009. "Transitions in living arrangements of Canadian seniors: Findings from the NPHS longitudinal data," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1106-1113, March.
    2. Maleshkov, Hristo, 2004. "Social and economic circumstances of sex differentials in poor health of elderly population," IRISS Working Paper Series 2004-06, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.

    More about this item


    Gender; Morbidity; Disability; Self-rated Health; Psychosocial; Lifestyle; Old age; Canada; NPHS;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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