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Cross-national comparison of sex differences in health and mortality in Denmark, Japan and the US

Oksuzyan, A., Crimmins, E. M., Saito, Y., O'Rand, A., Vaupel, J. W., Christensen, K.

European Journal of Epidemiology, 25:7, 471-480 (2010)

DOI:10.1007/s10654-010-9460-6

Keywords: Denmark, Japan, USA, disability, health, mortality, sex differentials

Abstract

Objectives. The present study aims to compare the direction and magnitude of sex differences in mortality and major health dimensions across Denmark, Japan and the US. Methods. The Human Mortality Database was used to examine sex differences in age-specific mortality rates. The Danish twin surveys, the Danish 1905-Cohort Study, the Health and Retirement Study, and the Nihon University Japanese Longitudinal Study of Aging were used to examine sex differences in health. Results. Men had consistently higher mortality rates at all ages in all three countries, but they also had a substantial advantage in handgrip strength compared with the same-aged women. Sex differences in activities of daily living (ADL) became pronounced among individuals aged 85+ in all three countries. Depression levels tended to be higher in women, particularly, in Denmark and the HRS, and only small sex differences were observed in the immediate recall test and Mini-Mental State Exam. Conclusions. The present study revealed consistent sex differentials in survival and physical health, self-rated health and cognition at older ages, whereas the pattern of sex differences in depressive symptoms was country-specific.

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