Elder abuse and role of education in India

Our findings reveal that 11% of 60+ year olds have experienced at least one type of elderly abuse… Formal education among elderly beyond a certain level (8 years) has a strong relation with reduced violence against elderly.

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ABUSE AGAINST ELDERLY IN INDIA – THE ROLE OF EDUCATION

Vegard Skirbekk and KS James

Abstract

Background
Abuse against the elderly is recognized as an important challenge to elderly health, but its determinants are not yet well understood. We present findings from a new dataset which covers a representative sample of the population aged 60 years and above from seven Indian states across India – all of which have a higher proportion aged 60 plus compared to the national average. Earlier studies suggest that schooling levels can be relevant in determining the level of abuse against seniors. This study focuses on the role of education on the prevalence of elderly abuse in India.

Methods
We conduct an analysis of cross sectional primary data that contains information on elderly abuse. The households in the sample were randomly selected from the seven demographically oldest states in India. These states are Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. A total of 9852 elderly from 8329 households were interviewed. The statistical analysis is based on logistic regression to understand the independent relation of education with abuse against the elderly.

Results
Our findings reveal that 11% of 60+ year olds have experienced at least one type of elderly abuse (Physical 5.3%, Verbal 10.2%, Economic 5.4%, Disrespect 6%, Neglect 5.2%). The most common perpetrator is the son, who is reported to be responsible for the abuse among 41% of male victims and 43% of female victims. Formal education among elderly beyond a certain level (8 years) has a strong relation with reduced violence against elderly.

Conclusions
Our findings suggest that level of schooling among elderly is strongly negatively related to abuse against them. More members in the household reduces the chance of abuse while having a greater number of children increases the chance of abuse (neglect and verbal abuse). We find that education even after controlling for wealth and other relevant variables is the factor that most consistently lowers elderly abuse. However, the relation of education to abuse is limited to those with more than 8 years of schooling. This suggests that the ongoing educational expansion beyond the basic schooling years in India may lead to a decline in the incidence of elderly abuse.

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