Expected longevity and productive ageing involvement among older Chinese in Hong Kong
Terry Lum | University of Hong Kong
Objective: Participation in productive activities in late-life is known to improves physical and psychological health, as well as an imperative policy objective in ageing societies. Little is known about how and why older adults allocate their time in productive activities among all other roles and activities. This study aimed to examine whether expected longevity, or subjective life expectancy, influenced the decision about participation in productive activities.
Data: Participants’ expected longevity were assessed using a question asking about the percentage chance that the person will live to be 75 years or more (if currently aged 60-65 years) or the percentage chance that the person will live to be 80, 85, 90, 95, 100, and 105 if their age is 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, 85-89, and 90-95, respectively. Productive activities were measured by the total number of hours engaged in employment, volunteering, and caregiving in the past month. Commitment in immediate family role and extended family and social roles were also measured.
Methods: This study used a cross-sectional design with quota sampling to ensure adequate number of participants in the age groups of 60-69 years, 70-79 years, and 80 years and older. Participants were recruited from various community elderly centres. Older adults with cognitive impairment (Mini-Mental State Examination cut-off score 18 – 22, depending on the education level) were not eligible to participate.
Results: 287 older adults participated in the study. In the past month, they engaged in an average of 2.1 hours in employment, 12.5 hours in volunteering, and 50.6 hours in caregiving. An increase of 10% in a person’s expected longevity significantly increased 4.3 hours of engagement in productive activities (95% CI 1.1 to 7.4; P = 0.008), after adjusting for age, gender, number of medical conditions, and commitment in other family and social roles.
Policy implications: Expected longevity may be an influential factor in determining a person’s participation in productive activities. The findings would facilitate our understanding in policies and programmes that target to increase productive engagement of the older population.