Gender Differentials in Cognitive Impairment of the Oldest Old in China

Zhenmei Zhang, Bowling Green State University
Cheryl Lero, Bowling Green State University

Cognitive impairment is a major health problem associated with old age. Research in China found that females are significantly disadvantaged in cognitive functioning in old age. We address two questions in our paper: 1) Are there gender differentials in both prevalence and incidence of cognitive impairment among the oldest old in China? 2) Do SES, social support, physical health, and leisure activities explain the gender gap in cognitive impairment? We draw on two waves (1998-2000) of the Chinese Healthy Longevity Survey in our study. Preliminary results have shown that gender has a significant effect on both the prevalence and incidence of cognitive impairment among the oldest old, controlling for age. Adding SES substantially reduced the gender differentials, suggesting that the lower SES of females in China contributed substantially to their poor cognitive impairment at old age. Adding social support, health, and leisure activities further narrows the gender differentials.

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Presented in Session 132: Gender and Health in Developing Countries