Social Indicators Research

, Volume 131, Issue 2, pp 769–795 | Cite as

Activity Participation and Well-Being Among European Adults Aged 65 years and Older

  • Maria VozikakiEmail author
  • Manolis Linardakis
  • Katerina Micheli
  • Anastas Philalithis


Increasing evidence suggests that different patterns of activity participation confer several positive well-being outcomes through the later years of life. The aim of the present study is to examine the likelihood of higher well-being linked with a socially engaged lifestyle with a view to extending prior research. Data on a nationally representative sample of adults aged 65 and older from eleven European countries (n = 7025) was drawn from the first Wave of the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE, 2004/5). Socially and productively oriented activities were administered as salient aspects of activity participation and were rated on frequency of involvement. Well-being was defined by the clustering of six indicators including life satisfaction, quality of life, self-rated health, psychological distress, chronic diseases and Body Mass Index (BMI). The effect of activity participation on the clustering of well-being indicators was estimated according to complex samples ordinal regression models. The overall pattern was that of a significantly increased likelihood for frequently active participants to present multiple presence of positive well-being outcomes (p < 0.05). This held true not only at the individual level but also across most SHARE countries. Although the findings of the current analysis cannot identify the direction of causality of the observed effects, they still lend some support to the reasonable conjecture that old-age activity engagement matters for individuals’ wellbeing and testify to the suggestion that public health and social care interventions should consider the respective potential well-being gains and therefore foster the facilitation of activities and attachments.


Older adults Social activities Productive activities Well-being 



Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe


Center for Epidemiological Studies of Depression questionnaire


Body Mass Index



European Union (EU) provided funding to the present study through the co-funded programme of ‘Thalis—Panteion—Investigating Crucial Interdisciplinary Linkages in Ageing Societies’ which is part of the Operational Programme of ‘Education and Lifelong Learning’ (MIS380266).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflit of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CreteHeraklion, CreteGreece

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