Functional Independence of Community-Dwelling Older Adults in China and South Korea

Othelia Eun Kyoung Lee, Qingwen Xu, Jungui Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Population aging is occurring at an unprecedented pace in China and South Korea. This study intended to identify and compare factors associated with older adults' functional status in China and South Korea using data from 2 national surveys. The study sample consisted of adults aged 65 to 79 years old drawn from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (2005; n = 4,898) and the Korean Longitudinal Study on Aging (2006; n = 4,152). The outcome variable, functional status, was defined as dependence in self-care tasks. Stepwise multiple regression analysis was used to assess the explanatory contributions of sociodemographics, health conditions, and health behaviors and activities to functional status. These Asian older adults shared certain commonalities in maintaining functional independence in their communities, and absence of diseases and higher cognition were associated with functional independence in both countries. Rural residence and outdoor activity were significant for Chinese older adults; for their South Korean peers, gender, employment status, drinking, and exercise were important. This study adds to a slowly growing body of knowledge of ways to improve the functional independence of community-dwelling older persons in these 2 Asian countries and beyond. More research is needed to identify cross-cultural and/or cross-country differences. © 2014

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)440-453
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Social Service Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • China
  • South Korea
  • aging
  • community
  • health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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