Thirty years of research on the subjective well-being of older Americans

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Thirty years of research among older Americans on life satisfaction, morale, and related constructs has yielded a consistent body of findings. Parallel results for measures of these constructs and high intercorrelations justifies considering them in terms of a single summary construct, subjective well-being. As this research has relied almost exclusively on survey measures, interpretations are limited to the social-psychological level of people's day-to-day verbal behavior. This research shows reported well-being to be most strongly related to health, followed by socioeconomic factors and degree of social interaction, for the general population of Americans over 60. Marital status and aspects of people's living situations are also conclusively related to well-being. Age, sex, race, and employment show no consistent independent relation to well-being. In addition to indicating that negative life situation exigencies, such as poor health and low income are related to lower well-being, the results tentatively indicate that these exigencies create a greater vulnerability to the impact of other negative conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-125
Number of pages17
JournalJournals of Gerontology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging


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