Are pension types associated with happiness in Japanese older people?: JAGES cross-sectional study

PLoS One. 2018 May 21;13(5):e0197423. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0197423. eCollection 2018.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian People / psychology*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Happiness*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Pensions*
  • Regression Analysis

Grants and funding

This study used data from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study, which was supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (KAKENHI grant numbers: JP15H01972, JP20319338, JP22390400, JP23243070, JP23590786, JP23790710, JP24140701, JP24390469, JP24530698, JP24653150, JP24683018, JP25253052, JP25870573, JP25870881, JP26882010, and [A]16H02634), Health and Labour Sciences Research Grants from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (Grant numbers: H28-Choju-Ippan-002, H26Choju-Ippan-006, H25-Choju-Ippan-003, H25-Kenki-Wakate-015, H25-Irryo-Shitei-003 [Fukkou], and H24-Junkanki[Seishu]-Ippan-007), Research and Development Grants for Longevity Science from the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, Research Funding for Longevity Sciences from the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology (Grant numbers: 24-17 and 24-23), and a research grant from the Japan Foundation for Aging And Health (Grant number: J09KF00804). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.