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Socio-economic position and quality of life among older people in 10 European countries: results of the SHARE study


This study examines associations between quality of life and multiple indicators of socio-economic position among people aged 50 or more years in 10 European countries, and analyses whether the relative importance of the socio-economic measures vary by age. The data are from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) in 2004. 15,080 cases were analysed. Quality of life was measured by a short version of the CASP-19 questionnaire, which represents quality of life as comprising four conceptual domains of individual needs that are particularly relevant in later life: control (C), autonomy (A), self-realisation (S) and pleasure (P). The short version has 12 items (three for each domain). Five indicators of socio-economic position were used: income, education, home ownership, net worth, and car ownership. A multiple logistic regression showed that quality of life was associated with socio-economic position, but that the associations varied by country. Relatively small socio-economic differences in quality of life were observed for Switzerland, but comparatively large differences in Germany. Education, income, net worth, and car ownership consistently related to quality of life, but the association of home ownership was less consistent. There was no indication that the socio-economic differences in quality of life diminished after retirement (i.e. from 65+ years). Conventional measures of socio-economic position (education and income), as well as alternative indicators (car ownership and household net worth), usefully identified the differential risks of poor quality of life among older people before and after the conventional retirement age.

Corresponding author
University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Department of Medical Sociology, Martinistr. 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany. E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
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