Disability and active life expectancy among older Cambodians

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



Older adults in Cambodia are survivors of harsh living conditions, including poverty and periods of extreme violence. Although these experiences may affect health outcomes, little data has existed to monitor Cambodia's older population. The current paper uses data from the 2004 Study of the Elderly in Cambodia (SEC) and focuses on disability status. The data is the first of its kind for Cambodia - a comprehensive survey employing a representative sample of adults 60 and older living across the country. Disability prevalence by age and sex, Active Life Expectancy (ALE) and common correlates of disability, using Activity of Daily Living (ADL) items, are examined. In addition, disability prevalence rates are compared to those for older adults living in other countries in South-east Asia. The results indicate that older Cambodians are more disabled than their counterparts living elsewhere. Possible reasons include long-term influence of social disruption and poverty. Women live longer than men, but spend a greater proportion of their remaining life in states of disability and severe disability. Correlates of disability show that younger age, being male, having higher income satisfaction, being married and living in urban areas associate with lower probabilities of reporting disability. A contribution of the analysis is the examination of a basic measure of health among a population of which little is known.