Antecedents of Subjective Wellbeing Among Older Adults in Kerala

  • S. Irudaya Rajan
  • Anusmita Devi
  • Tannistha Samanta
  • S Sunitha


Several attempts have been made to assess the quality of life of older people through objective measurement of various factors such as health, income, economic and social status. However, the self-perception of wellbeing has emerged as a critical axis to understand the experience of older people and their overall wellbeing. This emphasis on subjectivity and experience coincides with the cultural turn that the field of gerontology has recently encountered. This study locates the conceptual framework within this epistemological turn and uses the subjective wellbeing inventory (SUBI) from the Kerala Aging Survey 2013. The goal of this study is straightforward. First, it reviews theoretical (particularly, the “convoy model of family relations”, Antonucci in Social support: theory, research and applications. Springer, The Netherlands, pp 21–37, 1985) and empirical work from an interdisciplinary standpoint and sifts through diverse cultural contexts to highlight the complex interactions between family structure, social membership, (physical) health and subjective wellbeing. Second, it offers a descriptive analysis to determine the socio-cultural antecedents of wellbeing among older adults in Kerala. The analysis suggests that age, marital status, gender, household size, education, grand parenting roles and normative expectations are key determinants of subjective wellbeing. Not surprisingly, subjective wellbeing is shown to become worse as one grows older, though this association is amplified for older women. Analysis also suggests that loneliness experienced by the respondents is often a product of a perceived sense of lag between expectations and their fulfilment. Overall, the study provided a nuanced understanding of the critical links between family structure, cultural expectations, socio-demographic factors and subjective wellbeing of older Indians in a changing demographic context.


Subjective wellbeing Gender Health Loneliness Aging Kerala 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Irudaya Rajan
    • 1
  • Anusmita Devi
    • 2
  • Tannistha Samanta
    • 2
  • S Sunitha
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Development StudiesThiruvananthapuramIndia
  2. 2.Indian Institute of TechnologyGandhinagarIndia

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