Socioeconomic status differentials in life and active life expectancy among older adults in Beijing

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Purpose: The study compares life and active life expectancy estimates across indicators of socioeconomic status (SES) for a cohort of older adults in the Beijing municipality. Our aim is to determine if associations found are consistent across indicators and with those typically observed in the Western industrialized countries. Method: A multistate life table method is used to estimate expected years of total and active life, defined as life spent without limitation in functions necessary for performing daily tasks. Results: We find that men of higher status experience advantages with respect to life and active life expectancies. Among women, only active life expectancy is significantly higher for those of higher status, but the difference by income is not statistically significant. With respect to the proportion of life spent in an active state, both men and women of higher status benefit in comparison to their lower status counterparts. Finally, we find that disparities by SES generally increase with age. Conclusions: Despite several inconsistencies across SES indicators by gender, findings generally confirm inequalities within a society that is organized very differently socially, economically, and politically from the West.