Determinants of socioeconomic inequalities in subjective well-being in later life: a cross-country comparison in England and the USA

TitleDeterminants of socioeconomic inequalities in subjective well-being in later life: a cross-country comparison in England and the USA
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsJivraj, S, Nazroo, J
JournalQuality of Life Research
KeywordsCross-National, Expectations, Health Conditions and Status, Net Worth and Assets, Public Policy, Retirement Planning and Satisfaction

Purpose To explore country-specific influences on the determinants of two forms of subjective well-being (life satisfaction and quality of life) among older adults in England and the USA. Methods Harmonised data from two nationally representative panel studies of individuals aged 50 and over, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), are used. Linear regression models are fitted separately for life satisfaction and quality of life scales using cross-sectional samples in 2004. The ELSA sample was 6,733, and the HRS sample was 2,300. Standardised coefficients are reported to determine the country-specific importance of explanatory variables, and predicted values are shown to highlight the relative importance of statistically significant country-level interaction effects. Results Having a disability, been diagnosed with a chronic conditions or having low household wealth are strongly associated with poorer life satisfaction and quality of life. These statistical effects are consistent in England and the USA. The association of years spent in education, however, varied between the two countries: educational inequalities have a greater adverse effect on subjective well-being in the USA compared with England. Conclusion Interventions are required to counterbalance health and socioeconomic inequalities that restrict sections of the population from enjoying satisfying and meaningful lives in older age. The differential association between education and well-being in England and the USA suggests that the provision of welfare benefits and state-funded public services in England may go some way to protect against the subsequent adverse effect of lower socioeconomic status on subjective well-being.


Export Date: 6 August 2014 Article in Press

Endnote Keywords

Cross-country comparison/Inequalities/Life satisfaction/Life satisfaction/Older age/Quality of life/Subjective well-being/ELSA_/cross-national comparison/household wealth/chronic conditions

Endnote ID


Citation Key8011