Life Course Pathways to Later Life Wellbeing: A Comparative Study of the Role of Socio-Economic Position in England and the U.S

Monday, July 14, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: Booth 40
Oral Presentation
Bram VANHOUTTE , University of Manchester, United Kingdom
A main paradox in comparative social epidemiology is that subjective wellbeing in the U.S. tends to be higher than in England in later life, although physical health is worse by all measures (Banks, Marmot, Oldfield, & Smith, 2006; Zivin et al., 2010). One proposed mechanism, the differential distribution of education and wealth in both countries, is at the core of this paper and will be extensively tested. Multiple measures of wellbeing, such as depressive symptoms (Radloff, 1977), satisfaction with life (Diener, 1984), and more eudemonic approaches to wellbeing such as CASP (Hyde, Wiggins, Higgs, & Blane, 2003) and psychological wellbeing (Ryff & Keyes, 1995), will be considered. Using a growth curve approach that investigates not only differences between people, but also within people over time, we will investigate to what extent life course approaches to socio-economic position, such as accumulation, social mobility or latent period, explain baseline differences and rates of change in wellbeing in later life. This analysis will be conducted using multiple waves (2002-2012) of two sister studies of ageing, the U.S. Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). Both panel studies have a large, representative sample (N~20000 for HRS and N~10000 for ELSA) of the community residing population aged 50 or more, and contain comparable information on a wide array of life circumstances, among which gender, marital status, health, and both current and childhood socio-economic circumstances will be the most important for this analysis.