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Soc Sci Med. 2004 Jul;59(2):389-403.

The Israeli kibbutz as a venue for reduced disability in old age: lessons from the Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Aging Study (CALAS).

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Herczeg Institute on Aging, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


It is important to identify ways to moderate disability in old age. We assessed whether the kibbutz way of life results in reduced disability by examining risk factors for disability in three comparable populations: kibbutz members (lifetime kibbutz exposure); parents of kibbutz members who came to live on the kibbutz in old age due to health and social needs (old age exposure); and comparable Israelis in the general population (no exposure). Kibbutz members were less disabled, defined as needing help with at least one of five activities of daily living, than the other groups. Kibbutz members had 30% lower risk of disability, after controlling for sociodemographics and social networks, health and health behaviors, and life history and background. Introducing length of residence in current home and death of a child to the analysis reduced this finding to non-significance. Overall, risk of disability was significantly higher for older age groups, women, homemakers, people with more comorbid conditions, those with more children, and those with a child that had died, while risk of disability was significantly lower for those with larger social networks, those who had engaged in physical activity at midlife, and those who had lived in their homes longer. Since occupations on the kibbutz (primarily agricultural and blue collar) have equal pay, and kibbutz members have complete economic security, our results suggest that it is not such occupations themselves but their association with low incomes that have contributed to previous associations of blue collar and agricultural occupations with poor health and high disability. Lower disability among kibbutz members may be due to the social, economic, and instrumental support provided on the kibbutz, as well as to an active life style, suggesting features of kibbutz life that can be replicated elsewhere to reduce disability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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