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Gender difference in trends in healthy life expectancy in 2005-2012 for adults aged 50 years and older in South Africa

Witness Chirinda, Yasuhiko Saito, Danan Gu, Nompumelelo Zungu

Abstract

Data characterizing older people’s life expectancy by good or poor health is
important for policy and fiscal planning. This study aims to examine trends and investigate
gender differences in healthy life expectancy (HLE) for older people in South Africa for the
period 2005–2012. Using data from three repeated cross-sectional surveys conducted in 2005,
2008, and 2012, we applied a self-rated health measure to estimating HLE. The Sullivan
method was used in the calculations. We found that unhealthy life expectancy decreased over
the period, while HLE and the proportion of life spent in good health increased more than
total life expectancy in the same period. Gender disparities were evident: Women had higher
life expectancy than men, yet they spent a greater proportion of their lifetime in poor health.
We concluded that HLE of older people in South Africa has improved over the period under
investigation.


Keywords

gender difference; health expectancies; healthy life expectancy; older adults; self-rated health; South Africa; Sullivan method

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18063/ijps.v4i2.704
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