Evolving gender differences in health & care across cohorts


Ricardo Rodrigues


Stefania Ilinca, Eszter Zólyomi, Selma Kadi, Cassandra Simmons


Susan Phillips, Queen's University (Canada)

Stefan Fors, Karolinska Institutet (Sweden)


On average, women live longer than men, but live a greater portion of their lives in poor health. In old age (60+) and in relation to older men, women are more likely to use care services and to be informal care-givers. Older adults’ health and care-giving/receiving are two clear examples of existing inequalities between men and women.


FUTUREGEN aims to understand how entwined GENder inequalities in health and care-giving/receiving evolve across GENerations in connection with cultural and social contexts and individual realities, and how identified sex/gender inequalities may evolve in the FUTURE. Current gender inequalities in health and care can be attributed to present-day circumstances and to how people live their lives. Both are changing, but we know little about how these changes are shaping health and care and therefore cannot predict or ameliorate future sex/gender inequalities. Are health inequalities between men and women narrowing as women achieve greater economic independence? Will shifting cultural norms mean future generations of older men will provide more care? How are gender inequalities in health and care tied to socioeconomic conditions? As men and women have been found to self-assess their health differently, which measures of health avoid sex/gender bias?


To answer these questions for Europe and North America, the multidisciplinary FUTUREGEN team has built on the expertise of its members to

  1. apply novel quantitative methods (e.g. graphical modelling, decomposition strategy) to comparable international datasets covering Europe and North America;
  2. obtain older people’s views through participatory qualitative research methods applied to a sample of older people in Austria, Canada and Sweden.


The project's findings are delivered through a mix of high-impact peer-reviewed journals and policy briefs (see below our published papers so far):

  • Rodrigues R, Rehnberg J, Simmons C, Ilinca S, Zólyomi E, Vafaei A, Kadi S, Jull J, Phillips S, Fors S. (2023) Cohort trajectories by age and gender for informal caregiving in Europe adjusted for socio-demographic changes, 2004 and 2015. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 2023;, gbad011, https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbad011
  • Vafaei A, Rodrigues R, Ilinca S, Fors S, Kadi S, et al. (2023) Inequities in home care use among older Canadian adults: Are they corrected by public funding?. PLOS ONE 18(2): e0280961. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0280961
  • Augustsson, E., Rehnberg, J., Simmons, C. et al. (2022) Can Sex Differences in Old Age Disabilities be Attributed to Socioeconomic Conditions? Evidence from a Mapping Review of the Literature. Population Ageing, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12062-022-09395-1
  • Ilinca, S., Rodrigues, R., Fors, S. et al. (2022) Gender differences in access to community-based care: a longitudinal analysis of widowhood and living arrangements. Eur J Ageing, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-022-00717-y
  • Fors, S., Illinca, S., Jull, J. et al. (2022) Cohort-specific disability trajectories among older women and men in Europe 2004–2017, Eur J Ageing, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-022-00684-4
  • S.P. Phillips, Vafaei A., Yu S., Rodrigues, R. Ilinca, S. Zolyomi, E., Fors, S., (2020) Systematic review of methods used to study the intersecting impact of sex and social locations on health outcomes, SSM – Population Health, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2020.100705

The project has also produced a FUTUREGEN Data Navigator with data that allow for the monitoring of trends in inequalities in health, care and their determinants across cohorts, going beyond the end of the project.

Finally, two PhD workshops were organised on methods for developing and utilizing gendered indicators and methods in health and care research.

The European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research supports the Sustainable Development Goals

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UN SDG Good Health and Well-Being
UN SDG Gender Equality
UN SDG Reduced Inequalities


03/2019 – 05/2022