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The study of the status of living standards and related socioeconomic factors among the elderly in Tehran



Expended Abstract Introduction: Today, due to advances in health and economic development, we are witnessing improvements in living standards and life expectancy. On the other hand, after a period of fertility, in recent decades the proportion of the elderly has grown by decreasing women’s fertility rates. The phenomenon of increasing the aging population is one of the most important challenges facing the present century in the economic, social and health spheres. Epidemiological studies predict that by 2050, the population over 60 in Iran will reach over 26 million. Social welfare in every society is one of the most basic social needs. “Living standards” are one of the most important indicators of objective welfare. Living standards relate to the level of economic welfare of individuals, and emphasize the external aspects of life, including ownership of objects and resources, income, and wealth. As defined by the United Nations, living standards include aspects such as participation in social activities, access to services used by most people (public or private), economic resources, such as income, savings and assets, access to health services, leisure, and housing. A review of research shows that the income index has been used frequently to measure living standards. But income is not an appropriate indicator of living standards, because it does not reflect other sources or benefits and does not reflect changes made over time, and  many people refuse to express their exact income. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) also uses an objective approach to assess the standard of living. This approach includes GDP, employment, health, life expectancy and education, availability of facilities such as libraries and recreational facilities, and the extent to which people participate in the community. The review of living standards studies shows that there is little attention paid to the standard of living of the aging population in Iran, and in this case, there is a lot of information and knowledge gap. Thus, the present study was conducted to examine the standard of living of the elderly population in Tehran. Method: This cross-sectional study was conducted on a population of elderly over 60 years in Tehran. Participants were selected using stratified random sampling method. Twenty two districts of Tehran based on employment rate, gross household expenditure, women’s employment, total employment ratio and household growth rate were divided into three zones, including low, moderate, and high. The sample size for each zone was calculated 50 people with an appropriate formula. The inclusion criteria included age over 60, the ability to understand and respond to the questionnaire, and informed consent. Data were collected via a socio-demographic and standard of living questionnaire. The Living Standards Questionnaire is a self-report scale and includes 17 items in three dimensions. Validity and reliability of the questionnaire was confirmed by Jahan pour et al. (2017). After completing the questionnaires, the data were analyzed with SPSS-22 using one-way ANOVA and independent t-test. Findings: The mean±SD age of the participants was 63.7±2.9 years, 54% of them were male, 42% had primary and secondary education, and 57.3% were retired. Table 1 shows the descriptive characteristics of the participants. Table1: Descriptive statistics of the participants Variables    N    Percent Sex         Male    81    54 Female    69    46 Level of education         Illiterate    17    11.3 Elementary    63    42 Diploma    48    32 Academic    22    14.7 Employment status         Retirement    86    57.3 Homey    37    24.7 employed    15    10 Retirement and re-employment     12    8 Income         10 million Iranian Rials ≥    59    39.3 10-20     51    34 20-40    34    22.7 < 40    6    4 Housing status         Owner of the house    127    84.7 Tenant    21    14 Organizational Home    1    0.7 Other    1    0.7 The result showed that the mean score of standard of living was 6.73±2.53. The results also showed that the elderly acquired a higher score in the living facilities dimension compared to the other two dimensions. The mean scores of male and female standards of living were 6.65 and 8.28, respectively. However, there was no significant difference between two genders in terms of living standard. There was a direct and significant relationship between the living standards and employment status. The mean score of living standards in the upper, middle, and low socioeconomic zones were 8.72, 6.58 and 4.62, respectively. Therefore, the standard of living in the middle and lower zones were low, but in the upper level was moderate. Table 2 shows the status of living standards and its dimensions in the elderly of Tehran. Table 2: Status of living standards and its dimensions in the elderly of Tehran Variables    Minimum    Maximum    Mean    SD Living standards    1.83    12.42    6.73    2.53 Life facilities    0.58    9.17    3.89    1.50 Housing status    0.50    3.25    1.97    0.49 Household expenses    0.25    1.75    0.86    0.36 Discussion: The status of studies on objective well-being, living standards and dimensions including education, leisure, economic and social status, living environment, and employment status, especially in the Iranian elderly community, indicate the gap of knowledge in this area. The findings of this study showed that the standard of living for the elderly is at a low level. In the present study, living standards had no significant relationship with gender variable, while some studies showed that in older ages, being males and having lower socioeconomic status decrease the chance of achieving successful aging. It has been suggested that due to inequalities between the two sexes in property ownership, employment and control over income and assets, this age period for women has more economic problems. On the other hand, considering the effect of economic power on the degree of satisfaction with aging, it seems that women’s economic weakness due to their low level of employment and activity makes it difficult for women to have an old age. In this research, there is a meaningful relationship between living standards and the employment status of elderly people because some people may be re-employed during retirement and this may be related to the needs of individuals life and socioeconomic problems. We found that the living standards of elderly people in the upper zone of Tehran were better than moderate and low zones. There is also a significant relationship between variables of living standards and socioeconomic status. Considering the importance of this age group, more research is needed in order to investigate their issues in Iranian society. We proposed that living standards in older people in other cities of Iran be assessed due to cultural, linguistic, and lifestyle differences. Ethical Considerations Funding In the present study, all expenses were borne by the author and he did not have any sponsors Authors’ contributions All authors contributed in designing, running, and writing all parts of the research. Conflicts of interest The authors declared no conflict of interest Acknowledgments In this article, all rights relating to references are cited and resources are carefully listed.

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