AHA: Comparative Study of Aginf and HEalth in Asia



Study Affiliates





Doctors and researchers in a medical facility in Taiwan

The overall goal of the Comparative Study of Aging and Health in Asia project is to examine trends, transitions and determinants of health and health care utilization in four Asian countries that are undergoing rapid population aging and social and economic change. The study involves comparative analysis based on longitudinal data from recent panel surveys of older populations in Taiwan (1989-1999), Indonesia (1993-1998), the Philippines (1996-2001), and Singapore (1995-1999). The Asian panel surveys provide the first nationally-representative, longitudinal data available on the older population for these countries, which together span a continuum of socioeconomic development. The study provides a valuable opportunity to understand the causes and consequences of health transitions, the degree to which health patterns and determinants differ or are similar across countries, and the areas where policy is likely to have a strong impact on the health of aging populations.

The availability of high-quality longitudinal data in the United States has allowed for in-depth analyses of the patterns and determinants of health transitions among older Americans. However, these important issues have received little attention in Asia or other developing regions. By using data from newly available panel studies in Asia, the project will examine whether patterns observed in U.S. studies, such as recent improvements in disability and the strong association between socioeconomic status and health, are also observed in a less developed part of the world. Detailed comparative analyses on health across both time and geographic boundaries are rare, however by investigating the universality of findings across different environments, such studies can have powerful implications for our understanding of health processes.

A doctor and elderly patients in a nursing home in Taiwan

The study comes at an important time. Population aging is occurring at an unprecedented pace in Asia, and this has policy makers concerned because of the potential implications for future disease burden and associated informal and formal care demands. In the past, these Asian societies relied primarily on adult children to care for parents both on an instrumental and economic basis. Declining family sizes brought about by rapid drops in fertility, and changes in parent-child roles instigated by modernization of the economy have prompted governments to question whether greater responsibility for care and support of the older population will be placed on the public. The comparative approach we adopt will provide estimates of how the potential demand for care and support varies between countries (i.e., prevalence and transitions in health outcomes) and how generalizable the links are between socioeconomic status, social support and health observed in many developed nations in the West.

Three specific aims for this project are:

Aim 1: To describe the state of health of older persons in the selected study countries. Specifically we will estimate population prevalence levels of health outcomes (functional limitation, chronic conditions, and self-assessed health status), examine recent trends in prevalence levels within countries, determine individual-level transition rates in health status, and estimate active life expectancy.

An elderly Thai potter Aim 2: To investigate the effects of socioeconomic status, family network characteristics and social support, and health behaviors on health status transitions among older adults and how these relationships compare across the different countries.

Aim 3: To assess the relative importance of access and need as determinants of health care utilization by examining effects of individual-level characteristics and, in two of the countries, community resource characteristics.

The study is based at the University of Michigan's Population Studies Center (PSC), the Michigan Center on the Demography of Aging (MiCDA), and The Population Council in New York. Funding support is from the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

  Comparative Study of Aging and Health in Asia (AHA) | MiCDA | PSC | Pop Council | NIA | Contact | © 2017 AHA.