Social productivity and well-being of older people: baseline results from the SHARE study
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- Wahrendorf, M., von dem Knesebeck, O. & Siegrist, J. Eur J Ageing (2006) 3: 67. doi:10.1007/s10433-006-0028-y
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Social and productive activities have been associated with more favorable well-being and health outcomes in older populations. There is limited consensus on what aspects account for the observed effect and what pathways may underlie their associations. Using data from the 2004 ‘Survey of Health Aging and Retirement in Europe’ (SHARE), based on some 22,000 participants aged 50 and older from ten European countries, this study explores types and quality of productive activities (voluntary work, care for a person, informal help) and its association with two indicators of well-being (depressive symptoms, quality of life). Quality of social productivity is analyzed in the frame of a sociological model based on the notion of exchange reciprocity. Results of multivariate linear regression analysis, adjusted for important confounders, confirm an association of productive activity with well-being. However, this association varies according to experienced quality of exchange: Experienced reciprocity between efforts spent and rewards received is associated with positive well-being (with the exception of caring), while non-reciprocal exchange (high effort and low reward) is associated with negative well-being in all activities. Findings underline the need to improve quality of exchange in socially productive activities as a means of motivating older people to participate in societal life.