The More Engagement, the Better? A Study of Mortality of the Oldest Old in China

Document Type

Contribution to Books

Publication Date


Publication Title

Healthy Longevity in China : Demographic, Socioeconomic, and Psychological Dimensions


This chapter investigates the role of social engagement in mortality among the oldest old in China. Adopting the convoy networkmodel, we differentiate engagement with close social ties (spouse and children) from other social activities. Weibull hazard models were employed to analyze the mortality risk of those aged 80 or above within a 2-year period between 1998 and 2000. While the results of the whole sample show significant effects of marital status and number of children alive on mortality without the interaction effect, the beneficial effect of social activities on mortality gradually diminished with age and was reversed at very old ages, when health status, health behaviors, and socio-demographic characteristics were controlled. But the results vary by place of residence and gender. The findings seem to suggest that more social engagement may not necessarily be better for the well-being of the elderly at very old ages.

Original Citation

Sun, R., Liu, Y. (2008). The More engagement, the better? A study of mortality of the oldest old in China. In Zeng, Y., et. al. Healthy Longevity in China demographic methods and population analysis (pp. 177-192). [Dordrecht?] : Springer.