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The Well-Being of the Elderly in Asia

A Four-Country Comparative Study

Albert I. Hermalin, Editor

Publication Year: 2002

The past two decades have witnessed rapid social, economic, and demographic change in East and South-East Asia. The older populations in these regions have been increasing faster than in the West, and the proportions of people over sixty will more than double over the next thirty years. Increased urbanization and educational levels and a strong shift to professional, technical, manufacturing, and service occupations are changing the social and economic landscape, leading to concern for the well-being of the elderly, who traditionally have relied on the family for support. Governments are attempting to preserve these traditions while taking into account widespread family change and new expectations for pension, health insurance, and other public programs. The contributors to this volume use survey and other data collected over ten years to examine the well-being of the current older population in four Asian countries: The Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. Each major analytic chapter looks at a key dimension of well-being--economic, physical and mental health, work and leisure--and how these are affected by the familial and social support arrangements, as well as age, gender, education, and urban-rural residence. Where possible, changes over time are traced. Explicit attention is given to the policies and programs in place and under development in each country and to the cultural accommodations underway. The contributors also look ahead to the implications of the large numbers of elderly with very different characteristics who will predominate in the coming years and to the policy implications of this coming transformation. The book will be important for scholars and policymakers whose work involves population in Asia, including demographers, sociologists, and economists. Albert I. Hermalin is Research Scientist at Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research, and Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, University of Michigan.

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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pp. v-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

List of Tables

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pp. xi-xviii


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p. xix

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pp. xxi-xxvi

The well known Chinese saying that the longest journey starts with a single step is an elegant, motivational adage, but it fails to convey that the full panoply of reasons and preparations for that journey are often obscured in any retrospective reckoning. So it is with this work. The many steps by the many actors covering more than a decade ...

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1. Aging in Asia: Facing the Crossroads

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pp. 1-25

In the broadest sense, this monograph is a study in social change and in anticipating future social change. It examines the effects on the current and future elderly ofthe rapid demographic transition that has occurred over much of Asia, accompanied in many countries by equally dramatic social and economic transformations. ...

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2. The Demographic, Socioeconomic, and Cultural Context of the Four Study Countries

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pp. 25-64

In Chapter 1 we singled out three factors that have increased the focus on population aging throughout East and Southeast Asia: the rapid demographic changes, particularly sharply lower fertility, that have led to a rapid rise in the proportions at older ages; the concurrently rapid socioeconomic changes ...

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3. Policies and Programs in Place and under Development

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pp. 65-100

The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of public programs designed to assist the older population in the four countries that are the focus of this volume: the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, and Singapore. Emphasis is placed on social security and health care programs, ...

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4. Theoretical Perspectives, Measurement Issues, and Related Research

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pp. 101-142

This chapter establishes the groundwork for the analytic chapters that follow by developing the theoretical framework that guides these analyses, addressing several key measurement issues, and briefly reviewing relevant prior research. Given the breadth of subject matters associated with the study of aging ...

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5. Patterns and Determinants of Living Arrangements

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pp. 143-184

Living arrangements, and in particular coresidence with an adult child, lie at the heart of the traditional system of familial support for elders in all four of the countries encompassed by this study. For many elders, support and care from adult children living within the same household or residential compound is crucial ...

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6. Intergenerational Support and Transfers

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pp. 185-230

Intergenerational support and transfers—which commonly take the forms of coresidence, time, and money—are fundamental aspects of the social fabric in society. Intergenerational support systems play a key mediating role between broad societal-level changes, such as declining fertility rates and rising GNP, ...

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7. Work, Retirement, and Leisure

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pp. 231-294

We begin our analysis of the dimensions of well-being with an exploration of the labor force activities of the older respondents, the factors associated with work and retirement, and the nature and extent of their leisure. The focus on work marks a logical starting point as it represents for many a major defining characteristic ...

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8. Economic Well-Being: Insights from Multiple Measures of Income and Assets

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pp. 295-360

As discussed in greater length in Chapter 4, a major concern in the study of population aging is the effect of demographic and socioeconomic trends on the economic well-being of the elderly. Many observers, though by no means all, have concluded that factors of development would adversely affect the status ...

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9. Physical and Mental Health of the Elderly

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pp. 361-412

Central to the study of gerontology and influential in its development have been the changes in health that occur at older ages and the implications of these changes for social and medical services, family relationships, and public programs. It has long been recognized that mortality rates increase at older ages, ...

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10. Patterns of Health Care Utilization

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pp. 413-460

As detailed in Chapter 2 and noted elsewhere throughout this volume, all the countries under study have experienced tremendous reductions in both mortality and fertility in recent decades. These changes have led to new challenges for these countries, primarily resulting from a rapidly aging population. ...

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11. The Vulnerable and Their Potential Disadvantages

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pp. 461-518

The vulnerability of the older population is a persistent theme within gerontology. This arises quite naturally from consideration of the biological processes and underlying socioeconomic dynamics. Despite the ability of many older people to maintain robust health to advanced years, frailty and health-induced limitations increase with age. ...

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12. Capturing Change: Transitions at Older Ages and Cohort Succession

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pp. 519-542

In the opening chapter of this volume we positioned this work as a study in social change, namely, an examination of the effects of rapid sociodemographic transformations on the well-being of the current older population. In keeping with this focus, the previous chapters have looked at measures of economic status, health, ...

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13. Making the Choices: Policies and Research for the Coming Years

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pp. 543-582

One of the major goals for this volume, set out in Chapter 1, was to discern the policy and program challenges that emerged from the trends and interrelationships observed in the course of our analyses. As noted at the outset, officials in Asia have been prescient in sensing the potentially major effects of population aging ...

Appendix A: Survey Design Information and Methodological Notes

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pp. 583-589

Appendix B: Guide to Archived Data

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pp. 590-591

Appendix C: Project-Related Publications

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pp. 592-598


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pp. 599-615

E-ISBN-13: 9780472026500
E-ISBN-10: 047202650X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472112807
Print-ISBN-10: 0472112805

Page Count: 648
Illustrations: 24 drawings, 113 tables
Publication Year: 2002

OCLC Number: 671655466
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Well-Being of the Elderly in Asia

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Subject Headings

  • Older people -- Care -- Asia.
  • Social change -- Asia.
  • Asia -- Social conditions.
  • Asia -- Economic conditions.
  • Asia -- Population.
  • Older people -- Asia -- Social conditions.
  • Older people -- Asia -- Economic conditions.
  • Intergenerational relations -- Asia.
  • Quality of life -- Asia.
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