Gender disparities in health at older ages and their consequences for well-being in Latin America and the Caribbean

Nepomuceno, M. R., Di Lego, V., Turra, C. M.
Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, 191–213 (2021)
Open Access


Women live longer but can expect to spend more years in poorer health compared to men. In the context of population aging and declining gender ratios at older ages, there are increasing concerns about how this disadvantage in female health will affect well-being and sustentability, particularly in developing regions that are rapidly aging. Our study compares differences in health expectancies at older ages for men and women in order to assess gender disparities in health. We use data from the Survey on Health, Well-Being, and Aging in Latin America and the Caribbean to decompose the gender gap into total and age-specific mortality and disability effects in seven cities in the region. Our resutls show that at older ages, higher disability rates among women reduced the gender gap in healthy life expectancy by offsetting womens mortality advantage. In addition, we find that women's mortality advantage decreased almost systematically with age, which reduced the contribution of the mortality effect to the gender gap at older ages. Although the gender gap in health followed a similar pattern across the region, its decomposition into mortality and disability effects reveals that there was substabtial variation among cities. Thus, across the region, the implications of the gender gap in health for well-being vary, and the policies aimed at reducing this gap should also differ.

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