Ageing International

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 90–114 | Cite as

Creating and maintaining purpose in life in old age: A meta-analysis

  • Martin PinquartEmail author
Research Articles


Purpose in life is a defining feature of mental health. In old age, maintaining high levels of purpose in life may become more difficult, due to increasing losses (e.g., widowhood, retirement). Meta-analysis was used to synthesize findings from 70 studies on purpose in life in middle age and old age. We found a small age-associated decline of purpose in life, which was stronger in older age-groups. Purpose in life showed a strong association with social integration, and with relational quality in particular. In addition, high purpose in life was related to better health, higher everyday competence, higher socioeconomic status, being employed, and being married. Furthermore, strong associations with psychological well-being and low levels of depressive symptoms were found. We conclude that relying on sources that have low or even no age-associated decline, such as social integration and previous attainments, counteract strong declines of purpose in life in old age.


Social Integration High Socioeconomic Status Meaningful Life Personal Meaning High Purpose 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental PsychologyFriedrich Schiller UniversityJenaGermany

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