Perceived Support and Social Ties: Two Dimensions of Social Support and Health among the Elderly in Taiwan

Jennifer C. Cornman, Princeton University
Noreen Goldman, Princeton University
Ming-Cheng Chang, Taiwan Provincial Institute of Family Planning

This study investigates whether social ties and perceived support have the same influence on both physical and mental health among the elderly in Taiwan, a setting where these relationships have not been extensively examined. Using data from four waves (1989, 1993, 1996 and 1999) of the Survey of Health and Living Status of the Elderly, analyses examine the relationship between social ties and perceived support and four measures of health - mortality, functional status, self-assessed health, and depression. Measures of social ties and perceived support that capture respondents' experiences from 1989-1996 are used to predict health status in 1999. More positive perceptions about the availability of and satisfaction with social support are associated with lower levels of depression at follow-up, but are unrelated to other measures of health. Although there are some significant associations between social ties and the health outcomes, many are insignificant, weak or non-systematic.

Presented in Session 23: Health, Well-being and Aging