Life satisfaction of disabled and non-disabled elderly in Europe

  • Jelle Zoetemeijer Jelle Zoetemeijer

Considering the fact that frail and disabled elderly are an important and growing group of long-term care users, the use of broader outcome measures, such as wellbeing, may provide additional information necessary to optimally allocate elderly care. This because long-term care intervention, like for example a walking frame, can contribute to additional benefits beyond health, such as independence, freedom and autonomy. These additional benefits aim to increase wellbeing of the care recipients, in this manner a long-term care intervention affects the relation between an older person’s disability and his or her life satisfaction.
The use wellbeing outcome measures requires the knowledge and understanding of what constitutes life satisfaction for elderly and in particular about the relationship between disability and life satisfaction. This because disability is identified as one of the main characteristics of long-term care use. Once the relationship between disability and life satisfaction has made insightful, it allows us to see which additional benefits can or cannot be achieved with long-term care services, that elderly would not be able to achieve themselves. The contribution of this study to the literature is an increase in the understanding if being disabled is associated with the self-reported level of life satisfaction among the elderly in Europe.
The results showed that almost all of the background characteristics are significantly different in their mean between the groups of disabled and non-disabled elderly. On average disabled elderly were less educated, older, more likely to be unemployed, had less assets/income and had more chronic diseases than non-disabled elderly. The thesis also investigated the correlation between the background characteristics (control variables) and the self-reported level of life satisfaction among elderly people in Europe. All of the control variables included in the regression model were significantly correlated with the individuals’ level of life satisfaction. The results show that all the background characteristics are important confounders in the relation between disability and life satisfaction, which means that it is important to control for these variables.
The main result is that disability is negatively related to the self-reported level of life satisfaction for elderly in Europe, ceteris paribus, while controlling for other background characteristics. Meaning that disabled elderly in Europe are significantly less satisfied with their lives than non-disabled elderly. We can conclude as well that both disability and the background characteristics are important in determining the self-reported level of life satisfaction for elderly people in Europe.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.


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