Aging and subjective well-being in later life

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2014 Nov;69(6):930-41. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbu006. Epub 2014 Feb 25.


Objectives: This paper examines age-related changes in subjective well-being (SWB) in later life using multiple measures that cover eudemonic, evaluative, and affective dimensions of well-being.

Method: Using data from 5 waves of respondents aged 50 and older from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (2002-11), we fit multilevel linear growth curve models to examine the cohort differences and individual aging effects on quality of life, depressive symptomatology, and life satisfaction.

Results: Older cohorts are shown to have equivalent or better SWB than younger cohorts for each well-being measure. Nonetheless, individual aging effects for each well-being measure were observed with deterioration in well-being being greatest in older cohorts, even when adjusting for age-related changes in later life, including widowhood, retirement, and declining health.

Discussion: The results suggest that although older cohorts enjoy higher levels of SWB than their younger counterparts when under similar circumstances, they experience sharper declines, especially in the very oldest cohorts. The findings demonstrate the importance of separating out cohort differences and aging effects and also of taking into account the multidimensionality of SWB to determine the point at which age deterioration begins to occur across different measures.

Keywords: Ageing; Cohort; Growth curve modeling; Subjective well-being..

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Quality of Life