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Daily Activities and Happiness in Later Life: The Role of Work Status

Abstract

The aim of this study was to examine the role of work status (i.e. working versus not working) in the relationship between time-use and momentary happiness. We employed a longitudinal research design using monthly assessments via the day reconstruction method over 3 years among 579 older adults. In total, participants reported 84,247 daily activities and accompanying momentary happiness levels. Hierarchical linear modeling results revealed that working older individuals are not happier than nonworking individuals in the overall. However, involvement in work as a daily activity does coincide with higher levels of momentary happiness. Furthermore, working older individuals experience more happiness during relaxing activities, and during weekends, whereas nonworking older individuals experience more happiness during administrative activities. These findings provide novel information on intraindividual differences in lifestyle relating to the everyday happiness between working and nonworking older people which cannot be accurately captured by global survey methods.

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Acknowledgments

The data reported in this paper are from a panel study among older adults people in The Netherlands: Levensstijl en Levensvoldoening in de derde Levensfase [Life-style and Life-satisfaction in the Third Age]. This project was initiated by Ruut Veenhoven and Lyanda Vermeulen-Kerstens of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. The project is still going on, the current managing investigators are Sanne van Herpen and Wido Oerlemans. Information is available at www.risbo.org/levensstijl/info. Herpen, S. van, L. Vermeulen-Kerstens, and R. Veenhoven (2008). De levensstijl van vijftig-plussers (Life-style and Life-satisfaction in the Third Age). Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Rotterdam.

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Tadic, M., Oerlemans, W.G.M., Bakker, A.B. et al. Daily Activities and Happiness in Later Life: The Role of Work Status. J Happiness Stud 14, 1507–1527 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-012-9392-9

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Keywords

  • Aging
  • Happiness
  • Day reconstruction method
  • Retirement
  • Time-use