Determinants of socioeconomic inequalities in subjective well-being in later life: a cross-country comparison in England and the USA
- 664 Downloads
To explore country-specific influences on the determinants of two forms of subjective well-being (life satisfaction and quality of life) among older adults in England and the USA.
Harmonised data from two nationally representative panel studies of individuals aged 50 and over, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), are used. Linear regression models are fitted separately for life satisfaction and quality of life scales using cross-sectional samples in 2004. The ELSA sample was 6,733, and the HRS sample was 2,300. Standardised coefficients are reported to determine the country-specific importance of explanatory variables, and predicted values are shown to highlight the relative importance of statistically significant country-level interaction effects.
Having a disability, been diagnosed with a chronic conditions or having low household wealth are strongly associated with poorer life satisfaction and quality of life. These statistical effects are consistent in England and the USA. The association of years spent in education, however, varied between the two countries: educational inequalities have a greater adverse effect on subjective well-being in the USA compared with England.
Interventions are required to counterbalance health and socioeconomic inequalities that restrict sections of the population from enjoying satisfying and meaningful lives in older age. The differential association between education and well-being in England and the USA suggests that the provision of welfare benefits and state-funded public services in England may go some way to protect against the subsequent adverse effect of lower socioeconomic status on subjective well-being.
KeywordsSubjective well-being Quality of life Life satisfaction Cross-country comparison Older age Inequalities
This research was supported by funding for the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, which is provided by the National Institute of Aging (grants 2RO1AG7664-01A1 and 2RO1AG017644) and a consortium of UK government departments coordinated by the Office for National Statistics.
- 2.Shields, M., & Price, S. W. (2005). Exploring the economic and social determinants of psychological well-being and perceived social support in England. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), 168(3), 513–537. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-985X.2005.00361.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 7.Vanhoutte, B. (2014). The multidimensional structure of subjective well-being in later life. Journal of Population Ageing, 7(1), 1–20. doi: 10.1007/s12062-014-9092-9.
- 8.Keyes, C. L. M., Shmotkin, D., & Ryff, C. D. (2002). Optimizing well-being: The empirical encounter of two traditions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Keyes, Corey L. M.: Emory U, Dept of Sociology, Tarbutton Hall, Atlanta, GA, US, 30322, firstname.lastname@example.org: American Psychological Association. doi: 10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2067.
- 10.Netuveli, G., Wiggins, R. D., Hildon, Z., Montgomery, S. M., & Blane, D. (2006). Quality of life at older ages: evidence from the English longitudinal study of aging (wave 1). Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 60(4), 357–363. doi: 10.1136/jech.2005.040071.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 12.Jivraj, S., Nazroo, J., Vanhoutte, B., & Chandola, T. (2014). Aging and subjective well-being in later life. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbu006.
- 15.Meggiolaro, S. (2013). Life satisfaction among the elderly in Italy in a gender approach. Working Paper Series, N.6. Department of Statistical Science, University of Padua, Italy.Google Scholar
- 16.Degutis, M., & Urbonavicius, S. (2013). Determinants of subjective wellbeing in Lithuania. Inzinerine Ekonomika, 24(1), 111–118.Google Scholar
- 17.Vanhoutte, B., & Nazroo, J. (forthcoming). Cognitive, affective and eudemonic well-being in later life: Measurement equivalence over gender and life stage. Sociological Research Online.Google Scholar
- 22.Martinez-Martin, P., Prieto-Flores, M.-E., Forjaz, M. J., Fernandez-Mayoralas, G., Rojo-Perez, F., Rojo, J.-M., et al. (2012). Components and determinants of quality of life in community-dwelling older adults. European Journal of Ageing, 9(3), 255–263. doi: 10.1007/s10433-012-0232-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 23.National Institute on Aging. (2007). Growing Old in America: The Heath and Retirement Study (HRS Databook). Bethesda: National Institute on Aging.Google Scholar
- 24.Steptoe, A., Breeze, E., Banks, J., & Nazroo, J. (2012). Cohort Profile: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). International Journal of Epidemiology. doi: 10.1093/ije/dys168.
- 25.Cheshire, H., Cox, K., Lessof, C., & Taylor, R. (2006). Methodology. In J. Banks, E. Breeze, C. Lessof, & J. Nazroo (Eds.), Retirement, health and relationships of the older population in England: The 2004 English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (Wave 2) (pp. 367–383). London: Institute for Fiscal Studies.Google Scholar
- 28.Wiggins, R. D., Netuveli, G., Hyde, M., Higgs, P., & Blane, D. (2007). The evaluation of a self-enumerated scale of quality of life (CASP-19) in the context of research on ageing: A combination of exploratory and confirmatory approaches. Social Indicators Research, 89(1), 61–77. doi: 10.1007/s11205-007-9220-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar