The internet has become ubiquitous in contemporary human life. However, little is known about the association between internet use and older people’s aging process, especially that of older women.
Using the nationally representative dataset of the China Longitudinal Aging Social Survey 2016, we examined the relationship between internet usage and the successful aging of older Chinese women. The sample in this study consisted of 2713 respondents with an average age of 69.963 years. Successful aging was defined as no major diseases, no disability, high cognitive functioning, high physical functioning, and active engagement with life. Older women’s internet use behavior was represented by internet use frequency. Probit and instrumental variable models were employed to test the association between internet use frequency and successful aging of older women. The Karlson/Holm/Breen (KHB) mediation analysis was used to estimate the mediating effect of social capital on the relationship between internet use frequency and older women’s successful aging.
Using a probit model (coefficient = 0.030, p < 0.001) and an instrumental variable probit model (coefficient = 0.287, p < 0.001), it was found that a successful aging status was significantly correlated with an increase in internet use frequency. The functional mechanism analysis suggested that social capital partially mediated the overall association between internet use frequency and successful aging.
This study suggests that the more frequently older Chinese women use the internet, the greater the possibility of successful aging. Our findings provide new evidence from China about the determinants of older women’s aging process and aid in formulating targeted aging policies for older women in developing countries and regions.