Gender differences in physical health and psychosocial well being among four age-groups of elderly people in Israel

Sara Carmel, Judith H. Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent to which the well-established gender differences in physical and psychosocial well being in adulthood persist throughout different age groups of elderly persons, in order to support one of two opposing hypotheses: the convergence and divergence hypotheses. Data were collected by structured interviews from a random sample of 987 Israeli elderly (70+) in 1994. They were divided into four age groups for analysis: 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, and 85 and over. Findings indicate that in nearly every gender comparison by age, women score lower than men on indicators of physical and psychosocial well being, and in both genders increasing limitations on activities of daily living (ADL) were noticed. However, on all measures of physical health, except for ADL, the male advantage declines in the older age groups. This pattern is even stronger for the psychosocial indicators of well being, where no significant gender differences are found between the oldest groups. The trend of convergence among men and women thus occurs mainly in the age group of 85+. The results of multivariate analyses indicate that the sense of control of one's life is an important explanatory variable of satisfaction with life for men but not for women. The significant decline in the sense of control of men, aged 85 and over, is one of the main reasons for the more significant decline found in men's psychosocial well being in comparison to women. Our findings indicate that decline in health status, and other losses experienced with aging, affect more significantly men's sense of control over life, and therefore have a more deleterious effect on the psychosocial well being of men than on that of women. This conclusion, however, has to be supported by longitudinal studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-131
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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