Trajectories in well-being at older ages

Contact: Stephen Jivraj 

Short introduction

The promotion of ageing well in later life is becoming a key strategy of public health policy in many developed countries. In the UK and US, this is accompanied by a shift by health authorities from measuring successful ageing as the absence of physical and mental health conditions towards assessing what is commonly referred to as subjective wellbeing (SWB) (National Prevention Council 2011; HM Government 2010). There are three broad approaches to the measurement of SWB in the academic literature: eudemonic, evaluative and experienced.

This research strand provides a longitudinal analysis of the relationship between these three approaches to the measurement of SWB and age in a sample of adults aged 50 and over in England. Using data from five waves of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (2002-2011), we fit multilevel growth curve models to examine whether there is an accelerated deterioration in quality of life, depressive symptomatology and life satisfaction as individuals become older and to what extent this is moderated by age-related changes in later life.

The results shows that deterioration in each subjective wellbeing measure is greater at older ages, even when adjusting for age-related changes in later life, including widowhood, retirement and declining health. Nonetheless, older individuals are shown to experience deterioration from a higher baseline position than younger individuals, except at the oldest age for quality of life. The findings demonstrate the importance of taking into account the multidimensionality of subjective wellbeing to determine at which point of age deterioration is most likely to occur across different measures.


HM Government, 2010. Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Our strategy for public health in England       National Prevention Council, 2011. National Prevention Strategy

Current research outputs from this strand

Vanhoutte, B., Jivraj, S., Nazroo, J., Chandola, T., (2012) The effect of ageing on multiple measures of subjective wellbeing. ICLS seminar, UCL, London, 14 November 2012

Jivraj, S., Nazroo, J., Chandola, T., Vanhoutte, B. (2012) Does age and ageing affect subjective wellbeing in older adults? XI International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies Conference, Venice, 1-4 November 2012

Jivraj, S., Nazroo, J., Chandola, T., Vanhoutte, B. (2012) The relationship between subjective wellbeing and age in older adults in England. British Society for Population Studies Annual Conference, Nottingham, 10-12 September 2012

Vanhoutte, B., Jivraj, S., Nazroo, J., Chandola, T., (2012) Age and period effects on well-being in later life. European Society for Health and Medical Sociology Conference. Hannover, 30 August-1 September 2012