With Health and Good Food, Great Life! Gender Differences and Happiness in Chilean Rural Older Adults

Abstract

The interest to study the well-being in older adults notices the process of population aging that exists in different parts of the world, especially in developed and emerging countries such as Chile. In this research we explore the differences between gender in determinants of affective component of well-being, i.e. happiness in older adults, both women and men, living in rural areas in the Maule Region, Chile. A subjective happiness scale was applied across female (N = 241) and male (N = 144) older adults (age range 60–90). Statistical analysis included comparison of means for independent samples and multiple comparison tests. Ordered logit models were computed to examine the determinants of happiness. We find that satisfaction related to food, perception of health and functionality are significantly linked to individual happiness within both gender groups. An influential predictor of female’s happiness is the frequency of having dinner with companion. An increased quantity of goods at home implied more happiness. A positive coefficient for age and a negative coefficient for age-squared seem to support the idea of an inverted U-shaped relationship between age and happiness in the female group with an inflection point at the age of 77.5 years. This research suggests that the design and formulation of public policies on rural older adults should consider subjective welfare factors they perceive as predictors of happiness and not only objective factors related to well-being.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Interdisciplinary Excellence Research Program on Healthy Ageing (PIEI-ES), University of Talca, Chile.

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Correspondence to Germán Lobos.

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Lobos, G., Grunert, K.G., Bustamante, M. et al. With Health and Good Food, Great Life! Gender Differences and Happiness in Chilean Rural Older Adults. Soc Indic Res 127, 865–885 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-015-0971-0

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Keywords

  • Well-being
  • Ordered logit
  • Perception health
  • Functionality
  • Public policy