Age effects on subjective well-being in later lifeStephen Jivraj, Bram Vanhoutte, James Nazroo & Tarani Chandola University of Manchester Frailty, Resilience and Inequality in Later Life
Background• In general population wellbeing is U-shaped over age (Blanchflower & Oswald 2008)• How does well-being evolve in later life (50+)? – Is there a third age (Laslett 1989) ? – What does ageing substantively mean? • Only a decline in conditions and circumstances (health, social support, partnership, ses, …)?
What is subjective well-being?• Subjective well-being (SWB) is – mental health more than physical health? – subjective judgement more than objective conditions? – a social construct rather than universal truth?• Measuring SWB relates to normative ideas about what ‘the good life’ is about!
Hedonic well-being• Philosophical roots in Aristippus of Cyrene, Epicurus, Bentham, Mill – Well-being is maximalisation of pleasure, minimalisation of suffering• Affective and cognitive aspect (Diener 1984) – Both + and – affect, based on moods and emotions – Individual assessment of quality of life, based on internal criteria (Life satisfaction)
Research Questions• What are the effects of ageing, cross-sectional and longitudinal, on well-being?• Do different measures show similar age- effects?• Does controlling for circumstances explain away age-effects ?
Data• English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) – Longitudinal unbalanced sample • 10.331 respondents (aged 50+) in wave 1 (2002-2003) • 5.913 in wave 5 (2010-2011) • Average of 3.1 waves completed• SWB Measures: – CASP15: quality of life, autonomy, self- actualisation – CES-D: depressive symptoms – SWLS: evaluative of life satisfaction
Method: Latent Growth model• Multilevel/Hierarchical/Random model with 2 levels – observations (L 1) nested in individuals (L 2)• Steps – Null model => 50-30 % of change in SWB is intra- individual. – Model with only age – Full Model
Explaining age effects• Controlling for conditions, is there still an age effect? (Full model => 32-40% of total variance is explained )• Controls: – Wave / gender / ethnicity / marital status / wealth / social class / education / employment status / LLSI / ADL / chronic conditions / close contacts / social support / volunteering / caring
Age vs Full model CASP 15 Full model Age Model3836343230282624 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85
Age vs Full Model CES-D Age model Full Model 32.5 21.5 10.5 0 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85
Age vs Full model SWLS Age model Full model282726252423222120 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85
Conclusion• Different measures different stories?• What does ageing mean in terms of well- being, is it only a decline in conditions or is something else happening? – CASP – quality of life in later life still declines, taking into account all known correlates – CES-D- rise in depressive symptoms can almost entirely be explained by conditions – SWLS – controlling for conditions, people evaluate their life in more positive terms as they get older.
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