Life Events and Stress: Do Older Men and Women in Malaysia Cope Differently as Consumers?
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The study of major life events and their effects on well-being has considerable relevance for scientific disciplines and policy making in understanding the consumer behaviour of older people. There is evidence of differences in reactions to and coping with stress between males and females but relatively little knowledge about such gender differences amongst older people, especially in middle-income countries. This study of older Malaysians looked at both coping strategies and gender differences in reactions to stress when people are confronted with certain life events. Seventeen major life events were used in interviews with 645 respondents aged 50 years or older in five major urban areas in Peninsular Malaysia. The analysis showed older women tended to experience higher levels of chronic stress than older men. They also had more health problems, had lower levels of self-esteem and were less satisfied with life. Whilst the results showed little support for gender differences in coping behaviours, stress had a significant influence on the way older men and women change store preferences. A hypothesis that older women would use more emotion-focused coping strategies was not supported. Knowledge of how older Malaysians cope with life events and stress and especially in this instance with regard to consumption behaviour, is likely to be of considerable academic and policy related interest.
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