Differences in levels of social integration among older women and men in Egypt

Zeinab Khadr, American University in Cairo


The current study explores factors underlying the observed gender differences in levels of social integration among older adults within the context of the Arab countries. Reports on older adults' engagement in social activities were classified into two broad categories; "private activities that are child-centered" and "public activities that are adult-centered and extend beyond the realm of the family's children." Findings revealed that gender differences in older adults' involvement in both types of activities were found to be insignificant, a result that indicates older women's withdrawal from shouldering private-type activities and their increase engagement in public-type activities. Patrilocal residence, which is very common in the Arab countries, exhibited two different patterns of effects on levels of social integration. It increased older adults' reports of involvement in private-type activities in general, but decreases older women's reports of their involvement in these activities. Modernization and its impact on older adults' levels of social integration were also investigated in terms of both education and urban/rural residence. Education was positively correlated with older adults' engagements in private-type activities, but not public-type activities. Urban residence and living in a less restricted social environment in general was associated with decreases in older adults' reports of their involvement in private-type activities. Nevertheless, older women residing in urban settings were found to report more involvement in both private and public activities. The current study highlights the need for more future studies that explore aspects of older adults' integration within the family and the community, the interplay between attributes of older adults and members of their social network as well as the impact of social integration on the well-being of older adults within various normative cultural contexts. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.