Background: Although many previous studies have examined the determinants of happiness in older adults, few have investigated the association between pension types and happiness. When compared to other conventional socioeconomic indicators, pension types may be more indicative of long-term socioeconomic status as they can reflect a person's job history over their life course. This study examined the association between pension types and happiness in Japanese older people.
Methods: Cross-sectional survey data from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study were used to analyze the association between pension types and happiness. The study population comprised 120152 participants from 2013. We calculated the prevalence ratios of happiness for the different pension types using Poisson regression models that controlled for age, sex, marital status, equivalent income, wealth, education level, working status, occupation, depression, and social support.
Results: After controlling for socioeconomic indicators, the prevalence ratios (95% confidence intervals) of happiness for no pension benefits, low pension benefits, and moderate pension benefits relative to high pension benefits were 0.77 (0.73-0.81), 0.95 (0.94-0.97), and 0.98 (0.97-0.99), respectively. However, the inclusion of depression as a covariate weakened the association between pension types and happiness.
Conclusions: While pension types were associated with happiness after adjusting for other proxy measures of socioeconomic status, the association diminished following adjustment for depression. Pension types may provide rich information on socioeconomic status and depression throughout the course of life. In addition to conventional socioeconomic indicators, pension types should also be considered when assessing the determinants of happiness in older adults.