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Journal Article

Older people and Social Quality – what difference does income make?


Publication date

Nov 2019


This article explores the relationship between Social Quality and income in later life and represents the first application of the concept to a United Kingdom data-set with an explicit focus on older people. In order to undertake this analysis, confirmatory factor analysis models are employed in conjunction with the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). This enables various dimensions or domains of Social Quality to be measured and then subjected to further scrutiny via regression analysis. Initially, the paper explores links between low income, poverty and older people, prior to outlining the concept of Social Quality and its four conditional factors. Following the methodology, the impact of income on Social Quality domains is explored. We identify that differences in income in older age provide a partial explanation of differences in individual Social Quality. While there is a statistically significant relationship between income and certain aspects of Social Quality such as economic security, altruism, social networks and culture/participation, other factors such as health, identity and time did not have a statistically significant relationship with income. This indicates that improvements in the income of older people are likely to positively impact on aspects of their Social Quality. Finally, some policy implications of the finding are outlined with particular reference to the potential role for pensions in enhancing aspects of Social Quality in retirement.

Published in

Ageing and Society

Volume and page numbers

39 , 2351 -2376





Older People, Social Exclusion, Social Inclusion, Poverty, Income Dynamics, and Well Being


Open Access; This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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