Gender differences in trajectories of self-rated health in middle and old age: An examination of differential exposure and differential vulnerability

Leah S. Rohlfsen, Jennie Jacobs Kronenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Objective: This research examined gender differences in self-rated health (SRH) using the differential exposure and differential vulnerability explanations of gender differences in health. Method: Trajectories of SRH were estimated using data that spanned 12 years (1992-2004) from the Health and Retirement Study. Results: There was no gender difference in SRH at baseline, but SRH declined faster for males over time. Factors that mediated the gender difference included changes in employment status, smoking behavior, and the onset of health conditions. Moreover, were it not for gender differences in various structural and health status factors, females would have better SRH at baseline and over time. Discussion: Our results differ from previous research, which often shows a female disadvantage that is reduced or disappears at older ages. Furthermore, gender differences in the predictors of SRH (exposure) contribute more to understanding gender differences in SRH than different responses to the predictors (vulnerability).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-662
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014



  • differential exposure
  • differential vulnerability
  • gender differences
  • growth curve analysis
  • self-rated health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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