Productive activities and psychological well-being among older adults.

TitleProductive activities and psychological well-being among older adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsHao, Y
JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Date Published2008 Mar
ISSN Number1079-5014
Call Numbernewpubs20080528_JoG63_2.pdf
KeywordsActivities of Daily Living, Aged, Cohort Studies, depression, Employment, Female, Health Status, Humans, Male, Mental Health, Middle Aged, Models, Psychological, Psychological Theory, Psychomotor Performance, Quality of Life, Social Environment, Volunteers

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to test whether paid work and formal volunteering reduce the rate of mental health decline in later life.

METHODS: Using four waves of Health and Retirement Study data collected from a sample of 7,830 individuals aged 55 to 66, I estimated growth curve models to assess the effects of productive activities on mental health trajectories. The analytical strategy took into account selection processes when examining the beneficial effects of activities. The analyses also formally attended to the sample attrition problem inherent in longitudinal studies.

RESULTS: The results indicated that activity participants generally had better mental health at the beginning of the study. Full-time employment and low-level volunteering had independent protective effects against decline in psychological well-being. Joint participants of both productive activities enjoyed a slower rate of mental health decline than single-activity participants.

DISCUSSION: The results are consistent with activity theory and further confirm the role accumulation perspective. The finding that full-time work combined with low-level volunteering is protective of mental health reveals the complementary effect of volunteering to formal employment. Methodological and theoretical implications are discussed.

User Guide Notes

Endnote Keywords

Work/Work, volunteer/Mental health

Endnote ID


Alternate JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Citation Key7223
PubMed ID18441271