chapter  5
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Investigating the role of nativity on functional disability among older adults in Singapore


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The health status of older adults is of particular interest because the elderly usually command medical resources out of proportion to their number. According to Mayhew (1999), the number of people with disabilities is likely to grow substantially as societies age, and consequently ageing is poised to overtake population growth as the main factor for expanding health expenditures on a worldwide basis. Recent gerontological studies conducted in the USA indicate that health and social care services required by older people with disabilities will be a growing burden and a major societal concern for the next century (Fried and Guralnik 1997). The costs associated with health problems at older ages will be higher in Asian societies such as Singapore and Japan where the proportion of those in older ages is greater. To our knowledge, this is the first Singaporean study which focuses on differences in functional disability among older adults born in Singapore, and those born in China, Malaysia and elsewhere.