Quality of Life Research

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 1273–1282 | Cite as

Mobility impairment, social engagement, and life satisfaction among the older population in China: a structural equation modeling analysis

  • Linna Li
  • Becky P. Y. Loo



Revealing the relationship between mobility impairment and life satisfaction can help to propose effective interventions to secure mobility and life satisfaction. However, the relationship remains unclear and lacks quantitative evidence in China. This study therefore assesses the association of mobility impairment, social engagement, and life satisfaction among the older population in China.


Based on the sample of China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey database in 2013, a structural equation modeling is established. The sample size is 4245 with 55.9% with mobility impairment.


The model shows that the length of suffering from disability is significantly related to mobility impairment (β = 0.058, p < 0.001). Mobility impairment is inversely related to social engagement (β = −0.300, p < 0.001) and life satisfaction (β = −0.311, p < 0.001). Social engagement is positively related to life satisfaction (β = 0.211, p < 0.001). Moreover, the relationships have some differences for the seniors with different sociodemographic characteristics and living in different residential areas.


As seniors get older, they tend to have more severe mobility impairment and participate less in social activities. Those with higher mobility impairment are more likely to report lower life satisfaction partly because they usually participate less in social activities. Different strategies are suggested to be adopted to improve the life satisfaction of the older population from the aspects of promoting mobility and social engagement, including improving the design of transport facilitates, providing assistive facilities for the seniors with severe mobility impairment, promoting the accessibility of community leisure and healthcare services, and constructing more community senior activity centers.


Mobility Social engagement Life satisfaction Aging China Structural equation modeling 



The authors would like to acknowledge the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) team for providing the data.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The authors declare that ethics approval is not required for this study since it uses secondary data source. Details of the ethical and sampling procedures of the data source are provided in the methodology section of the paper.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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