Skip to main content

The Health and Well-being of Jewish People Aged 65 to 85 Years Living at Home in the East End of London

  • Ann Bowling and Morag Farquhar (a1)

Relatively little is known about what has been termed cultural gerontology, or the experience of ageing among members of particular ethnic minority groups. One of the greatest gaps in current knowledge relates to the subjective health status and use of health services among elderly people in ethnic minorities, particularly those who are Jewish. The research results reported here are from a survey of elderly people in City and Hackney, London, of whom 16% were Jewish. They show that Jewish respondents were more likely than other elderly people to report problems with emotional well-being, with mental and physical health and with functional ability (tasks of daily living). Jewish respondents were also more likely to use services, particularly health services, than other respondents. The associations with service use generally remained after health status had been controlled for.

Hide All


1. Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, Country of Birth. Great Britain. HMSO, London, 1983.

2. Fenton, C. S., Race, health and welfare. Afro-Caribbean and South Asian people in central Bristol – health and social services. University of Bristol, 1985.

3. Fenton, C. S., Ethnic minority populations in the United Kingdom. In Squires, A. J. (ed), Multicultural Health Care and Rehabilitation. Edward Arnold, London, 1991.

4. Young, J. and George, J., History of migration to the United Kingdom. In Squires, A. J. (ed), Multicultural Health Care and Rehabilitation. Edward Arnold, London, 1991.

5. Barker, J., Black and Asian Old People in Britain. Age Concern, Mitcham, England, 1984.

6. Norman, A., Triple Jeopardy: Growing Old in a Second Homeland. Centre for Policy on Ageing, London, 1985.

7. Gay, R., The Jews of Germany. Yale University Press, Yale, 1992.

8. Schweitzer, P., A place to stay: growing old away from home. In Squires, A. J. (ed), Multicultural Health Care and Rehabilitation. Edward Arnold, London, 1991.

9. Holzberg, C. S., Ethnicity and aging: anthropological perspectives on more than just the minority elderly. The Gerontologist, 12 (1982), 249257.

10. Wirth, L., The problem of minority groups. In Linton, R. (ed), The Science of Man in the World Crisis. Columbia University Press, New York, 1945.

11. Rosenwaike, I., The Extreme Aged in America. A Portrait of an Expanding Population. Greenwood Press, Connecticut, 1985.

12. Ball, R. A. and Clare, A., Symptoms and social adjustment to Jewish depression. British Journal of Psychiatry, 156 (1990), 379383.

13. Moser, K. A., Fox, A. J., Jones, D. R. and Goldblatt, P. O., Unemployment and mortality: further evidence from the OPCS longitudinal study 1971–1981. The Lancet, i (1986), 365367.

14. Townsend, P. and Davidson, N., Inequalities in Health. The Black Report. Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1982.

15. Whitehead, M., The Health Divide: Inequalities in Health in the 1980s. Health Education Council, London, 1987.

16. Glendenning, F. and Pearson, M., The Black and Ethnic Minority Elders in Britain: Health Needs and Access to Services. Working papers on the health of older people No. 6. Health Education Authority in association with the Centre for Social Gerontology, University of Keele, 1988.

17. Pearson, M., Harrison, A. and Gretton, J. (eds), An insensitive service. In Harrison, A. and Gretton, J. (eds), Health Care UK: An Economic, Social and Policy Audit. Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, London, 1984.

18. Ebrahim, S., Patel, N., Coats, M., Greig, C. et al. , Prevalence and severity of morbidity among Gujarati Asian elders: a controlled comparison. Family Practice, 8 (1991), 5762.

19. Marmot, M. G., Adelstein, A. M. and Bulusu, L., Immigrant Mortality in England and Wales, 1970–78. Studies on Medical and Population Subjects, No. 47. HMSO, London, 1984.

20. Gibson, R. C., Age by race differences in the health and functioning of elderly persons. Journal of Aging and Health, 3 (1991), 335351.

21. Bhalla, A. and Blakemore, K., Elders of the Ethnic Minority Groups. All Faiths for One Race. AFFOR, Birmingham, 1981.

22. Brown, C., Black and White Britain: The Third PSI Survey. Gower, Aldershot, 1984.

23. Gerson, E. and Leibowitz, M., Socio-cultural and demographic correlates of affective disorders in Jerusalem. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 12 (1975), 3750.

24. Gerson, E., Harrovit, J., Guraffe, E. et al. , A family study of schizoaffective bipolar I, unipolar and normal control probands. Archives of General Psychiatry, 39 (1982), 11571167.

25. Littlewood, R., From categories to contexts: a decade of the ‘new cross-cultural psychiatry’. British Journal of Psychiatry, 156 (1990), 308327.

26. Berry, S., Lee, M. and Griffiths, S., Report on a survey of West Indian pensioners in Nottingham. Nottingham Social Services Department (mimeo), 1981.

27. Jarman, Brian, Deprivation data: North East Thames Regional Health Authority. Department of General Practice, St Mary's Hospital Medical School, London, 1987.

28. Cartwright, A. and Anderson, R., General Practice Revisited. A Second Study of Patients and Their Doctors. Tavistock Publications, London, 1981.

29. Todd, J. and Butcher, R., Electoral Registration in 1981. Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, London, 1987.

30. Cartwright, A., Health Surveys. King's Fund, London, 1983.

31. Bowling, A., Measuring Health. A Review of Quality of Life Measurement Scales. Open University Press, Milton Keynes, 1991.

32. Black, M., Health and social support in older adults in the community. Canadian Journal of Aging, 4 (1985), 213227.

33. Townsend, P., Poverty in Britain. Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1979.

34. Hirsch, B. J., Natural support systems and coping with major life changes. American Journal of Community Psychology, 8 (1980), 159172.

35. Stokes, J. P., Predicting satisfaction with social support from social network structure. American Journal of Community Psychology, 11 (1983), 141152.

36. Goldberg, D. P., Manual of the General Health Questionnaire. NFER-Nelson, Windsor, 1972.

37. Goldberg, D. P. and Williams, P., A User's Guide to the General Health Questionnaire. NFER-Nelson, Windsor, 1988.

38. Bowling, A., The prevalence of psychiatric morbidity among people aged 85 and over living at home. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 25 (1990), 132140.

39. Andrews, F. M. and Withey, S. B., Social Indicators of Well-being – Americans' Perceptions of Life Quality. Plenum Press, New York, 1976.

40. Neugarten, B. L., Havighurst, R. J. and Tobin, S. S., Measurement of life satisfaction. Journal of Gerontology, 16 (1961), 134143.

41. Nie, H. H., Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (Xth version). McGraw Hill Book Company, New York, 1983.

42. Bowling, A., Farquhar, M. and Browne, P., Life satisfaction and associations with social network and support variables in three samples of elderly people. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 6 (1991), 549566.

43. Bowling, A. and Farquhar, M., Associations with social networks, social support, health status and psychiatric morbidity in three samples of elderly people. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 26 (1991), 115126.

44. Zborowski, M., Cultural components in response to pain. Journal of Social Issues, 8 (1958), 1630.

45. Croog, S. H., Ethnic origins, educational level and responses to health questionnaires. Human Organisation, 20 (1961), 6569.

46. Wolff, B. B. and Langley, S., Cultural factors and the response to pain. American Anthropologist, 70 (1968), 494501.

47. Mechanic, D., Response factors in illness: the study of illness behaviour. Social Psychiatry, 1 (1966), 1120.

48. Zola, I. K., Pathways to the doctor – from person to patients. Social Science and Medicine, 7 (1973), 677689.

49. Barrabee, P. and Van Mering, O., Ethnic variations in mental stress in families with psychotic children. In Rose, A. M. (ed), Mental Health and Mental Disorder: A Sociological Approach. Horton, New York, 1955.

50. Sanua, V. D., Differences in personality adjustment among different generations of American Jews and non-Jews. In Opler, M. K. (ed), Culture and Mental Health. Macmillan, New York, 1959.

51. Rinder, I., Mental health of American and Jewish urbanites. Review of literature and predictions. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 9 (1963), 104109.

52. Fernando, S. J. M., A cross cultural study of some familial and social factors in depressive illness. British Journal of Psychiatry, 127 (1975), 4653.

53. Bart, P., Portnoy's mother's complaint: depression in middle aged women. In Koltun, E. (ed), The Jewish Woman. An Anthology. Schocken, New York, 1977.

54. Carmil, D. and Carel, R. S., Emotional distress and satisfaction in life among Holocaust survivors – a community study of survivors and controls. Psychological Medicine, 16 (1986), 141149.

55. Mechanic, D., Medical Sociology. The Free Press, New York, 1970.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed