Gender Differences in Care Home Use among Older Finns and Belgians

Quality of life of the over-60s in Europe: a gender perspective
By Elina K. Einiö, Christine Guilbault, Pekka Martikainen, Michel Poulain


In a context of population ageing, it is of particular interest to study the determinants of care home use. This article compares data from registers in Finland (1997-2001) and Belgium (2001-2005). Being a woman is associated with a higher probability of residing in a care home at an older age in both countries, although the gender differences are somewhat larger in Belgium, and the relative gender difference in care home admission is higher in Belgium (hazard ratio = 1.82) than in Finland (1.35). These differences are largely related to the fact that women are older, less likely to be married, less healthy and have a lower socioeconomic status than men in both countries. The female excess in Belgium remained significant after controlling simultaneously for demographic, socioeconomic and health characteristics (hazard ratio = 1.12), while for Finland, the female excess was reversed in the multivariate models (0.91). The results suggest that older women are more dependent on institutional care not only because they have a higher likelihood of being widowed, which reduces their chances of receiving informal care from their married partner, but also because they are, on average, more disadvantaged in terms of material resources.


  • nursing home
  • older adults
  • widowhood
  • comparative study
  • Belgium
  • Finland
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