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Quality of life among older adults in China and India: Does productive engagement help?

Shu Hu and Dhiman Das ()

Social Science & Medicine, 2019, vol. 229, issue C, 144-153

Abstract: Individuals in developing countries often engage in paid and unpaid work till late in life due to low household savings and limited welfare provisions. Yet, physical disabilities associated with aging can limit their ability to work. While work can be beneficial for economic and psychological well-being, this paper investigates whether engagement in paid and unpaid work mediates the impact of physical disabilities on quality of life for older adults. We exploit the different levels of health services and social security in rural and urban China and India to examine the effect of public provisions in the process. We use nationally representative data of individuals aged 50 and above from the World Health Organization Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health Wave 1, conducted in 2008–10 in China and in 2007–08 in India. Using a causal mediation analysis framework, we find that paid work plays a minor role in mediating the effect of physical disabilities on quality of life in all societies, and the mediated effect is smaller in urban China than in other societies. Unpaid work is beneficial only in urban China, and it does not mediate the impact of physical disabilities on quality of life elsewhere. The findings indicate that promoting productive engagement alone, without improving basic public provisions, will have limited impact on improving quality of life of the aging population in developing countries.

Keywords: China; India; Productive aging; Quality of life; Paid work; Unpaid work; Physical disabilities; Public provisions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.06.028

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