Trends in Functional and Activity Limitations Among Chinese Oldest-Old, 1998 to 2008

Published In: Population and Development Review, v. 40, no. 3, Sep. 2014, p. 475-495

Posted on RAND.org on September 01, 2014

by Linda G. Martin, Qiushi Feng, Robert F. Schoeni, Yi Zeng

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China has the world's largest oldest-old population, but information on trends in late-life disability is lacking. We use data from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey for 1998 to 2008 to determine whether prevalence of limitations with physical functions and daily activities has changed recently among the Chinese population aged 80 to 105 and, if so, to investigate the factors associated with the change. We find that prevalence of need for assistance with activities of daily living and inability to independently conduct instrumental activities of daily living declined substantially. Males did not experience improvement in ability to carry out underlying physical functions over the same period, but females did. Variables associated with trends in one or more of these outcomes were adequacy of medical care as a child, childhood hunger, father's occupation in agriculture, main occupation before age 60 in agriculture, adequacy of current medical care, and body weight.

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