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Gender differences in financial sources and perceived financial satisfaction among older people in Vietnam

Gender differences in financial sources and perceived financial satisfaction among older people in Vietnam. This paper aims to show differences between older men and women in terms of financial sources for their living, as well as to examine determinants associated with perceived financial satisfaction of older men and women in Vietnam.

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Journal of Economics and Development, Vol.18, No.2, August 2016, pp. 36-58

ISSN 1859 0020

Gender Differences in Financial Sources
and Perceived Financial Satisfaction
Among Older People in Vietnam
Giang Thanh Long
National Economics University, Vietnam
Email: longgt@neu.edu.vn
Mai Hoang Viet
Prévoir Vietnam, Vietnam
Email: maihoangviet318@gmail.com
Nguyen Thi Hong Diep
Hong Duc University, Vietnam
Email: ducdiep7705@yahoo.com.vn

This paper aims to show differences between older men and women in terms of financial sources
for their living, as well as to examine determinants associated with perceived financial satisfaction
of older men and women in Vietnam. The Chow tests show that urban and rural older people were
not different in perceived financial satisfaction, while male and female people clearly were. Two
separate logistic regression models for male and female older people were applied to discover
determining factors of their perceived financial satisfaction. The findings generally showed that
older women usually had lower probability for financial satisfaction than did men. Educational
level, living area, and financial factors for both males and females played significant roles in
making older people satisfied with their financial situations. The paper also indicates that there
was a higher probability of financial satisfaction for those who received financial support from
their children. The results also imply that there was no relationship between the work situation of
older people and their perceived financial satisfaction, although working in later life could help
older people increase their income.
Keywords: Aging; gender; financial satisfaction; older people; Vietnam.
Journal of Economics and Development


Vol. 18, No.2, August 2016

1. Introduction

ple aged 65 and over account for 7 percent of
the total population) to an “aged” population
(when people aged 65 and over account for 14
percent of the total population), which is less
than that for Japan (26 years) and Thailand (22
years) – these two being considered as the fastest aging populations in the region.

As a result of continuing fertility reduction
and increase in life expectancy at birth, the
population in many developing countries is
aging at a high pace. Population aging is nowadays viewed as one of the most important
challenges for most of the world with its social
and economic consequences. According to the
United Nations (2013), the population aged 60
and above is the fastest growing and is forecast
to reach 1.6 billion in 2020 and 2.2 billion in
2050, and the majority of older people will live
in low-income countries. In terms of percentage of the total population, older people will
account for 32% of the population by 2050. In
fact, the twenty-first century will witness even
more rapid aging than did the past century. The
older population is increasing more rapidly in
developing countries as an inevitable process.

The quality of later life is reflected in many
aspects. In Vietnam, older people are still confronting health problems, poverty, environmental and social care issues as an unavoidable
consequence of demographic and social changes in the context of an aging population. Especially, despite the nationwide development
of social protection systems in recent years,
financial issues always have bad effects on the
lives of the Vietnamese. In addition to exploring the financial sources of older people, it is
also important to understand how older people
are satisfied with their financial situations. In
another aspect, elderly men and women are
particularly different in various socio-economic and health perspectives (see, for instance,
Giang and Pfau, 2009; Dam ed., 2011; Nguyen
and Giang, 2012), and thus it is also crucial to
explore how older men and women are different in terms of their financial sources for living
and their financial satisfaction.

In the context of the ASEAN region, the proportion of older people over 60 years in Southeast Asia will triple in the period from 2000 to
2050 (United Nations, 2013). And Vietnam is
not excepted from this mainstream trend. It is
possible to say that aging of the Vietnamese
population has become more prevalent, especially in the past three decades. Statistics for
the period between 1979 and 2009 indicate that
the older population had the highest growth
rate, while the child population experienced a
downward trend, and therefore the aging rate
is more rapid than ever. In comparison with the
respective populations in 1979, the child population rose by 0.98 times in 2009, but the older population increased by nearly three times
(Nguyen, 2010). Moreover, UNFPA (2011)
indicated that it would take Vietnam less than
20 years to move from an “aging” (when peoJournal of Economics and Development

To the best of our knowledge, there have
been no studies exploring these issues for older people in Vietnam. Being motivated by both
academic and policy perspectives, this paper
will examine how older men and women have
different financial sources, and how various individual and household factors influence their
perceived financial satisfaction. The paper is
organized as follows: In Section 2, we will
provide a literature review on the perceived

Vol. 18, No.2, August 2016

and Withey, 1976). Besides, financial satisfaction variables have been measured differently
by various proxies such as perception of past
and future financial outcomes and perception
of income adequacy (Keith, 1985), and satisfaction in regards of overall economic circumstances, including debt, savings and income
(Hira et al., 1993).

financial satisfaction of older people. We will
discuss data sets and methodology in Section 3,
while findings and discussion will be presented
in Section 4. The last section will provide some
policy recommendations to improve the financial satisfaction of older people in Vietnam.
2. Review of literature
Financial satisfaction is one of many domains of life that impact on an individual’s
well-being. Over the last three decades, financial satisfaction and its relationship to many aspects of life have attracted considerable attention from gerontologists and researchers from
other disciplines (see, for example, Liang et al.,
1980; Bowling, 1995; Keith, 1993).

Meanwhile, Burholt and Windle (2006)
viewed financial satisfaction from sole financial factors. Their research findings showed
that the financial satisfaction measure captured
perception of resources in reserve (i.e., future
financial satisfaction: the ability to afford emergencies, bills, luxuries and other future needs),
current material resources (i.e., current financial satisfaction: whether resources met current
needs, and how well off the person was compared with the other of the same age) and the
security afforded by the home (i.e., a safe and
decent place to live). The first two dimensions
of financial satisfaction were also used as measures in their own right (Burholt and Windle,

Definition of financial satisfaction
Financial satisfaction cannot be solely explained by individual income resources as economic variables. The effect of, psychological
factors of the old aged as well as social and daily life variables, must also be mentioned. For
this reason, financial satisfaction has a variety
of approaches.
According to Hira and Mugenda (1998), financial satisfaction was a common variable in
models predicting life satisfaction and other
measures of subjective well-being. It is reasonable to suppose that a sense of financial
well-being, stems from not only subjective and
objective measures of the financial situation
but also from how a person perceives objective
attributes of their financial situation after comparing those attributes against certain standards
of comparison (Porter and Garman, 1993). Financial satisfaction is defined as the subjective
evaluation of the degree to which one’s financial resources are adequate versus inadequate,
or satisfactory versus unsatisfactory (Andrews
Journal of Economics and Development

Zurlo (2009) conducted research on the relationship between the characteristics of adults
aged 51 and over and their financial well-being.
In this study, self-rated financial satisfaction is
a subjective measure of financial well-being.
In addition, financial satisfaction could be considered as a “mediator” between wealth and
degree of happiness, and played a vital role
in the domain of overall individual well-being (Easterlin, 2006; Layard, 2006; as cited by
Chuan et al. 2012). In addition, Hira and Mugenda (1998) showed that perceived financial
satisfaction included satisfaction with regular
monetary savings, current debt level, family’s

Vol. 18, No.2, August 2016

respondent resided on a farm or ranch). OLS
results showed that educated, currently employed, and married respondents tended to
reach a higher income level in both 1977 and
1989. For emergency fund adequacy, educated,
older, and white women who possessed a home
had a higher level of emergency funds in the
1989 data; however, it was not significant in the
1977 model. For the ratios of debt-to-income,
the results of tobit analysis indicated that employed, older, non-married, and white women
had a lower level of debt relative to their income, while homeowners had a higher debtto-income ratio in 1989. In short, the research
showed the factors contributing to the financial
well-being of individuals and households by
a complex measure combined from income,
emergency fund adequacy and debt-to-income.

current financial situation, ability to meet longterm financial goals, ability to meet financial
emergencies, and money management skills.
From all aspects to be considered, financial
satisfaction of older people in this paper is also
considered as a psychological, social and economic perception of their financial status. In
short, financial satisfaction is a perspective of
the older well-being regarding combination
of monetary condition and quality of later-life
A review of studies on older people’s financial satisfaction
Hong and Swanson (1995) studied the financial satisfaction of women aged 55 and above,
using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances in 1977 and 1989, which was a national
survey conducted by the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan, with the data
collected from personal interviews with a large
number of randomly selected households in the
U.S. There were three measures used (household income, emergency fund adequacy, and
debt-to-income ratio) to examine factors impacting on the household financial well-being
of older women. The models were also chosen
carefully and differentially with each measure
of financial status. To be specific, ordinary
least squares (OLS) was chosen for the model
of household income, while Tobit models were
selected for the models of emergency fund adequacy and total debt-to-income ratio factors.
In this research, some major factors were identified, including human capital and work-related (such as the number of years of formal
education, working status) and socio-economic
characteristics (such as home ownership, race,
the number of children under 18, whether the
Journal of Economics and Development

To determine different predictors of financial satisfaction among retirees and non-retirees, Hira and Mugenda (1998) measured perceived financial satisfaction as satisfaction in
such various respects as savings, debt, financial goals, and money management skills. They
used data collected from 529 respondents with
a mean age of 50 during the autumn of 1995
to 2000 through the Services of Survey Sampling of Connecticut Iowans. The answers from
respondents were recorded in a range from
‘very dissatisfied’ to ‘very satisfied’ with five
degrees of satisfaction. In this research, such
predictors contributing to financial satisfaction
were income, marital status, self-image, comparative financial situation, financial concerns,
and spending behavior. An ordered logistic regression model was used to establish the differences between retirees and non-retirees in
financial satisfaction. Among non-retirees, the

Vol. 18, No.2, August 2016

gard to age and satisfaction with financial status, the report also indicated that an increase in
age was correlated with a decrease in material
resources and thus people had lower financial
satisfaction in their older ages than they did in
their younger ages.

results showed significant and positive correlations between financial satisfaction and various socio-economic characteristics (such as
age, marital status, education, and household
income). It implied that the older, married and
more educated, and those with higher incomes,
were at a higher level of financial satisfaction.
The results also indicated positive relations between financial satisfaction and self-image and
comparative financial situation, while financial
status had a negative correlation with financial
concerns and spending behavior. Among retirees, respondents who possessed low self-image, financial concerns, or bad spending behaviors were less satisfied with their financial
status. Positive correlations to financial satisfaction were found in their perception of their
comparative financial situation variables. Unlike the non-retirees, age, marital status and
education were not significant variables in the
model of financial satisfaction. In conclusion,
for both the retirees and non-retirees, financial
satisfaction was significantly correlated with
respondents’ perception of their comparative
situation (i.e., compared to past income and the
income of other families), financial concerns,
and spending behavior.

In order to examine the cause of financial
satisfaction in old age, Hansen et al., (2008)
focused on the question: “A satisfaction paradox or a result of accumulated wealth?”. They
reviewed various studies that showed the relationship between income and fiscal satisfaction was positive but moderate in magnitude,
and the reason for this moderate correlation
was that perceptions of financial satisfaction
depended more on relative than absolute income (compared to past income or the income
of relevant others, for instance) while another
possibility was a satisfaction paradox. Using
data from the first wave of the Norwegian Life
Course, Aging, and Generation Study (NorLAG) with a sample of 4,169 people, respondents’ perception of financial satisfaction was
collected by the question: “How would you
describe your present financial situation” and
were categorized into five degrees in the answer: “great financial difficulties”, “some problems”, “must be careful, but I get by”, “good”,
“very good”. Hansen et al., (2008) examined
the so-called ‘satisfaction paradox’ or ‘satisfied
poor’ phenomenon to see whether older people
were more financially satisfied than the non-elderly while their earning was substantially less
than mid-age persons. For age and financial
satisfaction, they adopted analysis of variance
(ANOVA) to test the significance of differences between financial means and financial satisfaction across three age groups (40-52, 53-

With regard to the financial factors, data from
England, Scotland and Wales were used in JRF
Findings (2006), which examined the relationship between material resources and financial
satisfaction of older people. Findings indicated
that private sources of income (such as interest
and insurance payments, business income and
rent) were a part of material resources and had
a positive impact on financial satisfaction. In
contrast, a low level of material resources had a
negative impact on later life satisfaction. In reJournal of Economics and Development


Vol. 18, No.2, August 2016

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