Decomposing the Urban-Rural Gap in Life and Active Life Expectancies: Why Do Urban Elderly in Beijing Live Longer Healthier Lives than Their Rural Counterparts?

Toshiko Kaneda, Population Reference Bureau
Zachary Zimmer, Population Council
Zhe Tang, Beijing Municipal Network for Health & Care of the Elderly
Xianghua Fang, Beijing Municipal Network for Health & Care of the Elderly

Broad differences exist in social and economic life between urban and rural areas of China. In this study, we use measures of life and active life expectancies to examine whether and how urban-rural differences extend to mortality and functional health experiences of Chinese elderly. Using a multistate life table method, we first estimate life and active life expectancies for men and women in urban and rural areas to examine the extent of the differences. We then decompose differences into five possible factors underlying the urban-rural gap, including levels of social support, socioeconomic characteristics, health behaviors, chronic health conditions, and access to health services. Our preliminary results show older adults in urban areas have distinct advantages with respect to both life and active life expectancies over their rural counterparts and differences can be largely explained by the urban-rural gap in socioeconomic status and access to health care.

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Presented in Session 79: Advances in Healthy Life Expectancy Research