Age, wellbeing and inequality: Evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of AgeingISER External Seminars

Retirement from the workforce in industrialised societies has been seen as a transition into an economically dependent situation coupled with declines in social status and health. This focus on older people as dependent, however, neglects evidence of improvements in mental health in the period around retirement age, suggesting that for some, at least, the transition into a ‘retired’ status is a positive experience. Indeed, there is a growing recognition that Laslett’s description of the ‘Third Age’ as post-work life characterised by opportunity, leisure and self-fulfilment, is a reality for many. This shift in focus from dependent to wealthy and healthy agentic older people, though, neglects both the complexity of retirement trajectories and the marked inequalities between older people. Intergeneratonal inequality – comparing the situation of older people with younger people – has been the focus of much work, but it is also appropriate to focus on inequalities within the older population.

This paper uses data from five waves of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to model changes in markers of wellbeing with age and across age cohorts, using a multilevel growth modelling approach. In doing this we explore how the relationship differs across different markers of wellbeing (hedonic, experienced and evaluative). A particular focus will be on identifying the influence of factors that moderate the relationship between wellbeing and age. Explanations to be considered for these changes and inequalities in them will be framed around the possibilities that they are a product of diverse retirement trajectories carrying differing implications for post-retirement experiences.

Presented by:

James Nazroo (University of Manchester)

Date & time:

June 10, 2013 3:00 pm

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