Gender differences in trajectories of health limitations and subsequent mortality. A study based on the German Socioeconomic Panel 1995-2001 with a mortality follow up 2002-2005.

Doblhammer, Gabriele; Hoffmann, Rasmus 2010, Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 65:5, 482-491.

Objectives: Although research on health limitations has investigated genderdifferences in health and mortality, gender differentials inindividual-level trajectories have been studied less frequently.Moreover, there are no studies on the relationship between coursetypes and subsequent mortality. We investigate course types,explore confounding by socioeconomic and demographic correlates,and pose the question of whether the gender gap in morbidityresults from differences in the onset of, and/or survival with,health limitations.
Methods: Using the German Socioeconomic Panel, we identify individualtrajectories of health limitations and use multinomial logisticregressions to explore confounding and the relationship withmortality.
Results: The frequency of stable trajectories without limitations islower among women because they tend to experience courses thatinvolve extended periods of limitations and deteriorating health.Women also experience more frequently improvement after deterioration.The female mortality advantage is particularly large after healthdeterioration.
Discussion: Health limitations do not make men and women more equal in theface of death. Our results are consistent with earlier studiesshowing that mortality selection and differences in chronicconditions may explain the gender gap in health and mortality.We extend previous research showing that the female health disadvantageis largely the result of their mortality advantage.
Key Words: Gender • Germany • Health limitations • Mortality • Trajectories

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