Social Indicators Research

, Volume 73, Issue 3, pp 431–458 | Cite as

Productive Activities And Subjective Well-Being Among Older Adults: The Influence Of Number Of Activities And Time Commitment

  • Lindsey A. BakerEmail author
  • Lawrence P. Cahalin
  • Kerstin Gerst
  • Jeffrey A. Burr


This study examines relationships among three measures of subjective well-being (life satisfaction, happiness and depressive symptoms), and two global measures of productive activity (number of activities and time commitment). We argue that participation in multiple productive activities should increase subjective well-being because these behaviors increase social integration and provide meaningful social roles. Using the first two waves of the Americans’ Changing Lives survey, we estimate a series of OLS and ordered logistic regression models to examine this issue among a sample of respondents 60 years old and older. Our multivariate regression results show that as time committed to productive activities increases, life satisfaction increases. Both increasing numbers of productive activities and increasing time commitment predict higher levels of happiness. Also, we find only modest support for a relationship between productive activities and the number of and changes in depressive symptoms. Our results provide support for the idea that engaging in productive activities is beneficial to older persons’ well-being, implying confirmation of the role enhancement hypothesis and demonstrating the importance of social integration.


older persons productive activities subjective well-being 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lindsey A. Baker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lawrence P. Cahalin
    • 2
  • Kerstin Gerst
    • 3
  • Jeffrey A. Burr
    • 3
  1. 1.Gerontology InstituteUniversity of MassachusettsBostonUSA
  2. 2.Northeastern UniversityUSA
  3. 3.University of MassachusettsBostonUSA

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