The mediating effects of the sense of control on the financial well-being of older adults

TitleThe mediating effects of the sense of control on the financial well-being of older adults
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsZurlo, KA
Number of Pages228
UniversityUniversity of Pennsylvania
Thesis TypeDissertation
KeywordsDemographics, Methodology, Net Worth and Assets, Other, Retirement Planning and Satisfaction

Statement of the problem. The financial well-being of the older adult population has improved over the past few decades, but the outlook for future generations is not positive. As government and employers become less accountable for the provision of retirement income, adults are required to take greater responsibility for their financial circumstances as they age, yet they often have neither the skills nor ability to exercise this control. By not exercising adequate control over their different aspects of their lives, adults may be exposed to financial risk in retirement. Methods. A cross-sectional, quantitative analysis using survey data from two components of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), the HRS Rand Data files and the Psychosocial Leave-Behind Participant Lifestyle Questionnaire, was conducted. These surveys were administered in 2006 to a sample of 7,549 adults over the age of 50 and merged to conduct this analysis. Statistical analyses used multi-stage statistical modeling to test the mediating effects of the general sense of control and domain-specific levels of control, also known as control beliefs, on the relationship between the general attributes of older adults and their financial well-being. Financial well-being was measured as financial satisfaction and wealth. Results. The control beliefs of older adults significantly influence the size and magnitudes of the linkages between their demographic attributes and financial outcomes. Control beliefs boosted explained variance in financial satisfaction by over 70 percent and they increased explained variance in wealth by 4.5 percent. The mediation analyses were consistent with these results. Conclusion. Control beliefs are more strongly influential over older adults' sense of financial satisfaction than on their actual wealth levels. Accordingly, interventions that influence peoples' sense of control may enhance their felt well-being but will be less influential on levels of wealth. This study can be considered the first of its kind to use the psychological construct of sense of control as a mediating factor on the relationship between the attributes of older adults and self-assessed financial satisfaction as well as actual wealth outcomes. In this way we contribute to the newly developing research stream evaluating the determinants of self-reported happiness.

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Short TitleThe mediating effects of the sense of control on the financial well-being of older adults
Citation Key6190