China, with the largest aging population which is fast increasing, faces great challenges. Increasingly, researchers are looking at the relationship between whole life conditions from birth to death and health status in old age using a life-course approach. Few researchers have paid attention to developing countries like China where early life conditions were worse than those in western countries in the early twentieth century. China has had a complex social and political history in the twentieth century. This study investigates trajectories of aging and the effects of childhood and adulthood Socioeconomic Status (SES) encompassing education, job and family condition, on oldest-elders physical health in China.
The data used in this study was from all seven waves (1998-2014) of the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey and covered 6,483 respondents aged 80 to105 years in baseline. Measuring the limitation in activities of daily living represents physical health. Group-based trajectory modeling is used to identify groups of individuals with statistically similar developmental characteristics or trajectories. Multinomial logistic regression is used to compare the differences among trajectory groups.
Three-group models best fit the data for males and females. Along with increasing age, there was an increase in the limitation in activities of daily living. Some groups changed gradually, while others rose rapidly. Some childhood and adulthood socioeconomic status characteristics influenced trajectory-group membership. For both genders, group one and two had similar childhood socioeconomic status, while higher adulthood socioeconomic status like jobs were associated with less favorable health status. For group three of males suffering the hardest childhood in regard to education, had stable health status instead.
Diversity exists among aging procedure. Childhood and adulthood socioeconomic status influence health conditions of the oldest-elders in complex ways. Education is a remarkably positive factor significantly contributing to better health status.