Living conditions and life satisfaction of older Europeans living alone: a gender and cross-country analysis

Joëlle Gaymu, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Sabine Springer, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

This study concentrates on the influence of objective living conditions on the life satisfaction of older Europeans living alone from a gender and cross-national perspective. The data were drawn from the first wave of the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) which includes a single item question for life satisfaction and a large set of health, family and socio-economic indicators. From a descriptive point of view women living alone have been found to declare less often to be satisfied with life compared to men. But once controlled for inequalities in living conditions, there is no longer a difference in the life satisfaction of men and women living alone. But what distinguish them are the determinants for life satisfactions which also vary across countries. No limitations in daily activities, a high education level, leisure activities and an older age increase life satisfaction for both, men and women. But the existence of a child influences only the life satisfaction of men, while the income level (or home ownership) has an impact only for women. Moreover, a North/South gradient is clearly observable only for women living alone: all other things being equal they declare more often to be satisfied with life in northern European countries than in the South and their determinants for life satisfaction are strongly linked to the socio-cultural context.

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Presented in Session 35: Family changes and consequences on wellbeing