Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Living conditions and life satisfaction of older Europeans living alone: a gender and cross-country analysis

  • JOËLLE GAYMU (a1) and SABINE SPRINGER (a1) (a2)
Abstract

This study focuses on the influence of objective living conditions on the life satisfaction of older Europeans living alone from a gender and cross-national perspective. The data were drawn from the first wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), which includes a single-item question for life satisfaction and a large set of health, family and socio-economic indicators. From a descriptive point of view, a lower proportion of women living alone declared themselves to be satisfied with life compared to men. When inequalities in living conditions were controlled for, the difference disappeared, but some determinants of life satisfaction differed for men and women and varied among countries. No limitations in daily activities, a high level of education, participation in leisure activities and an older age increased life satisfaction for both men and women living alone, but the existence of a child influenced only the life satisfaction of men, while income level (or home ownership) had an impact only for women. Moreover, a North–South gradient was clearly observable only for women living alone: all other things being equal, women had a higher probability of declaring themselves satisfied with life in northern European countries than in the South, and their determinants of life satisfaction were strongly linked to the socio-cultural context.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Joëlle Gaymu, Institut National d'Études Démographiques, 133, boulevard Davout, 75980, Paris, Cedex 20, France E-mail: gaymu@ined.fr
References
Hide All
Angelini, V., Cavapozzi, D., Corazzini, L. and Paccagnella, O. 2009. Do Danes and Italians Rate Life Satisfaction in the Same Way? Using Vignettes to Correct for Individual-specific Scale Biases. Marco Fanno Working Paper 90, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche ‘Marco Fanno’, Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy. Available online at http://econpapers.repec.org/RePEc:pad:wpaper:0090 [Accessed 23 February 2010].
Bolle, F. and Kemp, S. 2009. Can we compare life satisfaction between nationalities? Evaluating actual and imagined situations. Social Indicators Research, 90, 397408.
Börsch-Supan, A., Brugiavini, A., Jürges, H., Mackenbach, J., Siegrist, J. and Weber, G. 2005. Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe: First Results from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. Mannheim Research Institute on the Economics of Ageing, Mannheim, Germany.
Börsch-Supan, A. and Jürges, H. 2005. Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe: Methodology. Mannheim Research Institute on the Economics of Ageing, Mannheim, Germany.
Bourque, P., Pushkar, D., Bonneville, L. and Béland, F. 2003. Contextual effects on life satisfaction of older men and women. Canadian Journal of Aging, 24, 1, 3144.
Bowling, A. 1995. What things are important in people's lives? A survey of the public's judgements to inform scales of health realted quality of life. Social Science and Medicine, 41, 10, 1447–62.
Bowling, A., Bannister, D., Sutton, S., Evans, O. and Windsor, J. 2002. A multidimensional model of QoL in older age. Ageing and Mental Health, 6, 355–71.
Bowling, A. and Windsor, J. 2001. Towards the good life: a population survey of dimensions of quality of life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2, 1, 5581.
Breuil-Genier, P. 1998. La dépendance des personnes âgées: recours aux proches et aux aides professionnelles [Disabled people in France: formal and informal care]. In Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (INSEE) (eds), France: Portrait Social, INSEE, Paris, 91–107.
Brown, J., Bowling, A. and Flynn, T. 2004. Models of Quality of Life: A Taxonomy, Overview and Systematic of the Literature. European Forum on Population Ageing Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. Available online at http://www.ageingresearch.group.shef.ac.uk/pdf/qol_review_complete.pdf [Accessed 27 August 2007].
Calasanti, T. M. 1996. Gender and life satisfaction in retirement: an assessment of the male model. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 51B, 1, S18–29.
Cambois, E., Desesquelles, A. and Ravaud, J. F. 2003. The gender disability gap. Population and Societies, 386, 14.
Campbell, A. E., Converse, P. E. and Rodgers, W. L. 1996. The Quality of American Life: Perceptions, Evaluations and Satisfactions. Russel Sage, New York.
Carrière, Y., Keefe, J., Légaré, J., Lin, X. and Rowe, G. 2007. Population aging and immediate family composition: implications for future home care services. Genus, 63, 1–2, 1131.
Christoph, B. and Noll, H. 2003. Subjective well-being in the European Union during the 1990s. Social Indicators Research, 64, 521–46.
David, M. G. and Starzec, C. 1996. Aisance à 60 ans, dépendance et isolement à 80 ans [At ease with 60, dependent and isolated with 80 years of age]. INSEE Première, 447, 16.
De Jong Gierveld, J., de Valk, H. and Blommesteijn, M. 2000. Living arrangements of older persons and family support in more developed countries. Paper presented to a United Nations Technical Meeting on Population Ageing and Living Arrangements of Older Persons: Critical Issues and Policy Responses. Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Organisation, New York. Available online at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/bulletin42_43/dejong_gierveld.pdf [Accessed 3 March 2010].
De Jong Gierveld, J., Van Tilburg, T. and Lecchini, L. 1997. Socio-economic resources, household composition and social network as determinants of well-being among Dutch and Tuscan older adults. Genus, 53, 3–4, 75–100.
De Santis, G., Seghieri, C. and Tanturri, M. L. 2008. Poverty trends among the elderly: what will the future hold? In Gaymu, J., Festy, P., Poulain, M. and Beets, G. (eds), Future Elderly Living Conditions in Europe. Cahier [Report] 162, Institut national d'études démographiques (INED), Paris, 117–40.
Delbès, C. and Gaymu, J. 2003. La Retraite, 15 ans Après [Fifteen Years After Retirement], Cahier [Report] 154, INED, Paris.
Delhey, J. 2004. Life Satisfaction in an Enlarged Europe. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.
Diener, E., Gohm, C. L., Such, E. and Oishi, S. 2000. Similarity of relations between marital status and subjective well being across cultures. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 3, 4, 419–36.
Doyle, D. 1984. Life satisfaction and old age. Research on Aging, 6, 3, 432–48.
Easterlin, R. 2001. Income and happiness: towards a unified theory. Economic Journal, 111, 473, 465–84.
Egidi, V. 2003. Health status of older people. Genus, 59, 1, 169200.
Esping-Andersen, G. 1999. Social Foundations of Post Industrial Economies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Eurostat 2002. La Vie des Femmes et des Hommes en Europe, un Portrait Statistique [The Lives of Women and Men: A Statistical Portrait]. European Commission, Brussels. Available online at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ [Accessed 3 March 2010].
Fageström, C., Borg, C., Balducci, C., Burholt, V., Wenger, C., Ferring, D., Weber, G., Host, G. and Hallberg, I. R. 2007. Life satisfaction and associated factors among people aged 60 years and above in six European countries. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 2, 1, 3350.
Ferring, D., Balducci, C., Burholt, V., Wenger, C., Thissen, F., Weber, G. and Hallberg, I. 2004. Life satisfaction of older people in six European countries: findings from the European Study on Adult Well-Being. European Journal of Ageing, 1, 1, 1525.
Freedman, V. A. 1996. Family structure and the risk of nursing home admission. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 51B, 2, S61–9.
Gabriel, Z. and Bowling, A. 2004. Quality of life from the perspectives of older people. Ageing & Society, 24, 5, 675–91.
Gaymu, J., Delbès, C., Springer, S., Binet, A., Desesquelles, A., Kalogirou, S. and Ziegler, U. 2006. Determinants of the living arrangements of older people in Europe. European Journal of Population, 22, 3, 241–62.
George, L. K. 2006. Perceived quality of life. In Binstock, R. H. and George, L. K. (eds), Handbook of Aging and the Social Sciences. Sixth edition, Academic, San Diego, California, 320–36.
Glaser, K., Murphy, M. and Grundy, E. 1997. Limiting long-term illness and household structure among people aged 45 and over, Great Britain 1991. Ageing & Society, 17, 1, 3–19.
Holden, K. and Hatcher, C. 2006. Economic status of the aged. In Binstock, R. H. and George, L. K. (eds), Handbook of Aging and the Social Sciences. Sixth edition, Academic, San Diego, California, 219–37.
Inglehart, R. 2002. Gender, aging and subjective well being. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 43, 3–5, 391408.
Jakobsson, U., Hallberg, J. R. and Westergren, A. 2004. Overall and health related quality of life among the oldest old in pain. Quality of Life Research, 13, 1, 125–36.
Kalogirou, S. and Murphy, M. 2006. Marital status of people aged 75 and over in nine EU countries in the period 2000–2030. European Journal of Ageing, 3, 1, 7481.
Légaré, J. and Martel, L. 2003. Living arrangements of older persons in the early nineties: an international comparison. Genus, 59, 1, 85–103.
Lelkes, O. 2007. Happiness over the life cycle: exploring age specific preferences. In Marin, B. and Zaidi, A. (eds), Mainstreaming Ageing, Indicators to Monitor Sustainable Policies. Publication of the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Vienna. Ashgate, Aldershot, UK, 359–90.
Noll, H. H. 2007. Monitoring the quality of life of the elderly in European societies: a social indicators approach. In Marin, B. and Zaidi, A. (eds), Mainstreaming Ageing: Indicators to Monitor Sustainable Policies. Publication of the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Vienna. Ashgate, Aldershot, UK, 329–58.
Pampel, F. C. 1992. Trends in living alone among the elderly in Europe. In Rogers, A. (ed.), Elderly Migration and Population Redistribution. Belhaven, London, 97–117.
Pinquart, M. and Sörensen, S. 2000. Influences of socio-economic status, social networks and competence on subjective well being in later life: a meta-analysis. Psychology and Ageing, 15, 2, 187224.
Pinquart, M. and Sörensen, S. 2001. Gender differences in self-concept and psychological well being in old age: a meta-analysis. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 56B, 4, P195–213.
Pitaud, P. and Vercauteren, R. 1995. L'intergénération en Europe. Recherche et dynamisation de la cohésion sociale [Intergenerational Solidarity in Europe: Research and Stimulation of Social Cohesion]. Erès, Ramonville Saint-Agne, France.
Reher, D. S. 1998. Family ties in western Europe: persistent contrasts. Population and Development Review, 24, 2, 203–34.
Schilling, O. 2006. Development of life satisfaction in old age: another view on the ‘paradox’. Social Indicators Research, 75, 241–71.
Smith, A., Sim, J., Scharf, T. and Phillipson, C. 2004. Determinants of quality of life amongst older people in deprived neighbourhoods. Ageing & Society, 24, 5, 793814.
Tesch-Römer, C., Motel-Klingebiel, A. and Tomasik, M. J. 2008. Gender differences in subjective well-being: comparing societies with respect to gender equality. Social Indicators Research, 85, 329–49.
Tomassini, C., Glaser, K., Wolf, D. A., Broese van Groenou, M. I. and Grundy, E. 2004. Living arrangements among older people: an overview of trends in Europe and the USA. Population Trends, 115, 2434.
Veenhoven, R. 1997. Progrès dans la compréhension du bonheur [Advances in understanding happiness]. Revue Québécoise de Psychologie, 18, 2, 2974.
Veenhoven, R. 2000. The four qualities of life: ordering concepts and measures of the good life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1, 139.
Veenstra, G. 2000. Social capital, SES and health: an individual level analysis. Social Science and Medicine, 50, 5, 619–29.
Von dem Knesebeck, O., Hyde, M., Higgs, P., Kupfer, A. and Siegrist, J. 2005. Quality of life and well-being. In Börsch-Supan, A., Jürges, H., Mackenbach, J., Siegrist, J. and Weber, G. (eds), Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe: First Results from SHARE. Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging, Mannheim, Germany, 199203.
Von dem Knesebeck, O., Wahrendorf, M., Hyde, M. and Siegrist, J. 2007. Socio-economic position and quality of life among older people in 10 European countries: results of the SHARE study. Ageing & Society, 27, 2, 269–84.
Walker, A. 2005. A European perspective on quality of life in old age. European Journal of Ageing, 2, 2, 2–12.
Wilhelmson, K., Andersson, C., Waern, M. and Allebeck, P. 2005. Elderly people's perspectives on quality of life. Ageing & Society, 25, 4, 585600.
Williams, R. 2006. Generalized ordered logit/partial proportional odds models for ordinal dependent variables. STATA Journal, 6, 1, 5882.
Wolf, D. A. 1995. Changes in the living arrangements of older women: an international study. The Gerontologist, 35, 6, 724–31.
Zick, C. D. and Smith, K. R. 1988. Recent widowhood, remarriage and changes in economic well-being. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 50, 1, 233–44.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed