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Research Project on

Aging and Health in Singapore
Researcher: Dr Santosh Jatrana
Asian MetaCentre for Population and Sustainable Development Analysis


This is a collaborative work with Dr. Angelique Chan, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore to address issues related to aging and health. In our joint work, we have been using longitudinal survey data from Singapore; specifically the 1995 National Survey of Senior Citizens and 1999 survey of Transitions in Health, Wealth, and Welfare of Elderly Singaporeans. Both surveys are nationally representative and form a source of panel data. In 1995, 4,750 individuals age 55 and above were interviewed concerning a variety of issues including demographics, wok, intergenerational support, income, health, and voluntary activities. In 1999, researchers attempted to re-interview as many of the original respondents as possible. Taking into account the mortality rate for this age group (4% per year) and other losses to follow-up including moves and severe health impairments impeding interviews, 42% of available cases were re-contacted. This resulted in a total sample size of 1981. This research project was a collaborative effort between researchers at the National University of Singapore, the Ministry of Community Development and Sports (Singapore), and the Population Studies Center of the University of Michigan (USA). The National University of Singapore provided funding for the project.

In progress

Expected Output
Health of older adults in Singapore: Is nativity an important determinant? (Jatrana and Chan, 2003)

(Paper is to be presented at International Workshop on Migration and Health in Asia, 21-23 May, 2003, organised by Asian MetaCentre for Population and Sustainable Development Analysis, Asian Research Institute, NUS and supported by the Welcome Trust )
In this paper we explore the question whether variation in health of older adults reflect differences in socio-economic and demographic characteristics or nativity (defined as native-born and foreign born) per say? This is an important question for policy makers. If nativity differences in health inequalities can be attributed to socio-economic and demographic factors, rather than to nativity itself, then programs aimed to reduce health inequalities can be targeted to compensate for differences between groups in traits such as education, employment etc. If, however, nativity itself is an obstacle to good health, then a culturally-based barrier may exist, in which case simply expanding the availability of health services or altering socio-economic conditions of people may do little towards reducing health inequalities. This paper assesses the relative contributions of socio-economic, demographic and social network factors and nativity to the explanations of health differentials between native-born and foreign-born older Singaporean adults. It addresses the following specific issues: to what extent is there variation in health between native-born and foreign-born older adults in Singapore? And to what should these differences, if there are indeed differences, be attributed?

Gender differences in health among older adults in Singapore (Chan and Jatrana, 2003)
(Paper to be presented at 3rd International Convention for Asian Scholars 2003 (ICAS3), 19-23 August, 2003 under the panel, ‘Aging and Health in Asia’)

Gender differences in health have been documented in developed countries, however, less attention has been paid to differences in gender differences in health status among older adults in Asia. Given the rapid ageing of Asia’s populations, there is an urgent need for estimation and projections of changing levels and trends in older adult health, particularly with regards to gender differences. Ageing is poised to overtake population growth as the main factor for expanding health expenditures on a world-wide basis. The costs associated with health problems in older age will be higher in Asian societies where the proportion of those in older ages is greater. Gender differences in health status will have an effect on health care costs given that older populations are predominately female and older females may have specific health problems that require attention. This paper addresses the following issues: to what extent is there variation in health status between older women and men in Singapore? And to what should these differences, if there are indeed differences, be attributed? Our study is unique in that it involves the analysis of a comprehensive set of health measures including self reported health status, information on chronic health disorders, and functional health status (mobility and disability measures). We analyse gender differences in these various measures of health status controlling for socioeconomic characteristics of respondents and health behaviours. Logistic regression is used to estimate the univariate as well as the multivariate models. Our preliminary results show that older female Singaporeans are more likely to report poorer self assessed health status, more chronic diseases, and poorer functional health, as compared to older Singaporean men, regardless of whether socioeconomic characteristics and health behaviour factors are controlled.

Socioeconomic status and health among the elderly in Singapore (Jatrana, 2003)
(Paper to be presented at Asia Research Institute Seminar series, National University of Singapore, September, 2003)

In this paper I look at the impact of socio-economic status on the health of older persons in Singapore. Socioeconomic status is operationalized as education, income, adequacy of income, type of present dwelling, ownership of dwelling, private health insurance, and last main occupation. In this study health is measured as self reported health, medical health and functional health. Self reported health is the respondent’s subjective assessment of his or her general health. Medical measure of health/ physical illness is characterized by signs and symptoms. It is constructed by employing questions inquiring about chronic health disorder that are experienced by the respondent. Functional health is characterized in terms of mobility, self-maintance and disability and it specifies how much difficulty one has with performing actions in daily life. It is based on self-reported measure of daily routine activities and is grouped into four dimensions: no disability, disability in IADL (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living) only; disability in mobility and IADL and disability in ADL (Activities of Daily Living), mobility and IADL.




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