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