How "successful" do older Europeans age? Findings from SHARE

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2011 Mar;66(2):230-6. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbq089. Epub 2010 Dec 6.


Objectives: We estimate comparable prevalence estimates of "successful aging" for 14 European countries and Israel, adding a new cross-nationally comparative perspective to recently published findings for the United States.

Methods: Measures for a variety of specific successful aging criteria were derived from baseline interviews of respondents aged 65+ who participated in the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (n=21,493). A multivariate logistic model was run for our global successful aging measure.

Results: Our analysis revealed substantial cross-country variation around a mean value of 8.5%: Although as many as 21.1% of older Danes meet our successful aging criteria, the respective proportion in Poland is only 1.6%. Age, gender, and socioeconomic status are shown to bear highly significant associations with individuals' odds of successful aging.

Discussion: The observed cross-national variation in successful aging-which continues to exist if population composition is controlled for-highlights the importance of taking into consideration structural factors at the societal level. It also suggests a potential for policy interventions supporting individuals' opportunities for successful aging.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Mental Competency / psychology
  • Models, Psychological
  • Retirement
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Environment
  • Social Identification
  • Socioeconomic Factors