Social connections and happiness among the elder population of Taiwan

Aging Ment Health. 2015;19(12):1131-7. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2015.1004160. Epub 2015 Feb 2.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine the association between social connections and happiness among members of the elder population of Taiwan.

Methods: Longitudinal panel data collected in three waves from 1999 to 2007 that are selected from national samples of Taiwanese older people were used for the analysis (n = 4731 persons). Happiness was defined as a dichotomous variable. Social connection variables included living arrangements, contacts with children/grandchildren/parents/relatives/friends, telephone contacts, providing instrumental and informational support, receiving instrumental and emotional support, and social participation. We controlled for the variables demographics, physical and mental health, economic satisfaction, and lifestyle. A generalized linear model (GLM) was applied in the analysis.

Results: Happiness remained stable over time. Receiving more emotional support and participating in social events were related to happiness at the beginning, while the effect of social participation was offset over time. Living arrangements, telephone contacts, providing social support, and receiving instrumental support were not significant.

Conclusion: The quality of social relationships experienced is possibly more important than the quantity of social interaction for older people, and having social relationships outside the informal social network may increase happiness.

Keywords: happiness; older people; social connection; social participation; social support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Asian People / psychology*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Happiness*
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations*
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Participation
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taiwan