European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 15–25 | Cite as

Life satisfaction of older people in six European countries: findings from the European Study on Adult Well-Being

  • Dieter FerringEmail author
  • Cristian Balducci
  • Vanessa Burholt
  • Clare Wenger
  • F. Thissen
  • Germain Weber
  • Ingalill Hallberg
Original Investigation


The European Study on Adult Well-being (ESAW), funded by the European Union, was conducted during 2002 and 2003 in Austria, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and Sweden. The aim of the interdisciplinary study was the conceptual clarification and the identification of factors contributing to life satisfaction for older people. Five key components were included in the study: (1) physical health and functional status; (2) self-resources; (3) material security; (4) social support resources; and (5) life activity. A representative population of adults aged 50–90 years living independently (not institutionalised) was selected in each participating country, and the actual sample size came very close to the target of 2,000, ranging from 1,854 to 2,417. The total European sample comprised 12,478 respondents. In this paper, mean differences in general and domain-specific life satisfaction between the six countries including age groups and gender are reported and discussed with respect to contextual national characteristics. In general the findings showed a high level in all chosen indicators of life satisfaction across the six countries. National differences depended on the domain under consideration, but the results showed in general that The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Luxembourg and Austria had higher values of life satisfaction compared to Sweden and Italy.


Gerontology Successful ageing Life satisfaction Cross-national differences 



The ESAW Project was designed as part of the Global Ageing Initiative, originated at the Indiana University Center on Aging and Aged, under the directorship of Dr. Barbara Hawkins. ESAW, funded by the European Union, is a European subgroup of the larger global study. The ESAW group consists of following research teams: Austria, G. Weber (Principal Investigator, PI), J. Glück, C. Heiss, S. Sassenrath; Italy, G. Lamura (PI), M.G. Melchiorre, S. Quattrini, C. Balducci, L. Spazzafumo; Luxembourg, D. Ferring (PI), M. Hoffman, C. Petit; The Netherlands, F. Thissen (PI), J.D. Fortujin, M. van der Meer, T. Scharf; Sweden, I.R. Hallberg (PI), C. Borg, C. Paulsson; United Kingdom, G.C. Wenger (Project Coordinator), V. Burholt (PI), G. Windle, B. Woods.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dieter Ferring
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cristian Balducci
    • 2
  • Vanessa Burholt
    • 3
  • Clare Wenger
    • 3
  • F. Thissen
    • 4
  • Germain Weber
    • 5
  • Ingalill Hallberg
    • 6
  1. 1.Faculté des Lettres des Sciences Humaines des Arts et des Sciences de l’éducationUniversité du LuxembourgLuxembourg
  2. 2.Istituto Nazionale di Riposo e Cura AnzianiAnconaItaly
  3. 3.Centre for Social Policy Research and Development, Institute of Medical and Social Care ResearchUniversity of WalesBangorUK
  4. 4.Amsterdam Institute for Metropolitan Environment and International Development StudiesUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department for Clinical Psychology and Health PsychologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  6. 6.Department of Nursing, Medical FacultyLund UniversityLundSweden

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