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Journal Article

Coresidence with a child and happiness among older widows in Europe: does gender of the child matter?


Publication date

Apr 2018


Both coresidence patterns and the reported well-being of older people vary widely across Europe for a variety of economic, cultural, and historical factors. We investigate how far 2 indicators of well-being, happiness and life satisfaction, vary according to whether or not older women live with their children and, in particular, with son(s) or daughters(s). We compare outcomes for women who are unpartnered widows, the great majority of whom will have had children, so those with and without coresident children may be compared. We use data for 34 countries in Europe by combining 7 waves of the European Social Survey for the period 2002–2014 (N = 18,500). We control for a range of other variables known to be associated with well-being including health status, socioeconomic position, and social support. Results show that widows living with a child were happier than those living without a child (generally alone) but that in Eastern and Southern Europe it was only living with a daughter that had this positive effect. Older age was associated with higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction. Other associations, and regional differences, were as expected with lower levels of happiness in Eastern Europe and for those with poorer health and fewer social resources. These findings indicate the important influence of contextual factors on associations between living arrangements and the well-being of older people and a need for further work on possible negative impacts of living alone on the well-being of older Europeans.

Published in

Population, Space and Place







Older People, Psychology, Geography, Demography, Well Being, and Sociology Of Households


Open Access; © 2017 The Authors. Population, Space and Place published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd; This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.


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