Health of Older Adults in Singapore: Is Nativity an Important Determinant?

Santosh Jatrana, Asian MetaCentre for Population and Sustainable Development Analysis
Angelique Chan, National University of Singapore

Although there has been an increased focus on the relationship between migration and health, we still have limited knowledge regarding the effect of early life course migration on the health status of older adults. This study examines whether foreign-born older adults have poorer functional health compared to native-born older adults in Singapore. We use cross-sectional data from the 1999 survey of Transitions in Health, Wealth, and Welfare of Elderly Singaporeans: 1995-1999. The dependent variable in this study is functional health. Functional health is a measure of difficulty with any of the following: basic activities of daily living (BADL), mobility, and/or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). The final functional disability index consisted of; 1. No functional or mobility disabilities(1) 2. Difficulty with IADL (2) 3. Difficulty with IADL and mobility (3) 4. Difficulty with BADL, mobility, and IADL (4) We used ordered logistic regression where the dependent variable is coded 1-4 with the 4th category representing the highest level of functional disability. The main independent variable of interest for this study is nativity, defined as native-born or foreign-born. The demographic, health risk behaviours, social networking and socio-economic variables selected as control variables are (a) Age, marital status, and ethnicity; (b) frequency of light and challenging physical activity, smoking status, and alcohol consumption; (c) socializing with friends, psychological health, availability of emotional support, organizational membership, and living arrangements; and (d) education level of the respondent, average monthly income of the household, adequacy of income, and currently working for pay. Preliminary results show a significant difference in level of functional disability between native-born and foreign-born older adults in Singapore.

Presented in Poster Session 4: Aging