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Lifetime Childlessness, Depressive Mood and Quality of Life Among Older Europeans

Author

Listed:
  • Sarah Gibney

    () (University College Dublin)

  • Liam Delaney

    () (University College Dublin
    University of Stirling)

  • Mary Codd

    () (University College Dublin)

  • Tony Fahey

    () (University College Dublin)

Abstract

Lifetime childlessness has increased in Europe. The relationship between childlessness and psychological wellbeing varies by the wellbeing measures employed, life stage and societal context. Health-related predictors of childlessness (health selection) may mediate the relationship between childlessness and wellbeing and/or influence wellbeing directly. This paper examines the relationship between lifetime childlessness, depressive mood and quality of life in early old age using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) (N = 21,295). Region-specific Ordinary Least Squares Analysis is performed to investigate this relationship and the mediating roles of health selection and marital status are explored. No main effect of childlessness is observed in any of the regions net of socio-demographic, economic and health factors. The significant role of health selection in this relationship is only evident in Eastern Europe. The findings of this study support a more in-depth analysis of the role of marital status in mediating the relationship between childlessness and psychological wellbeing. Consistent relationships between marital status and both measures of wellbeing support further analysis of marital selection in this regard.

Suggested Citation

  • Sarah Gibney & Liam Delaney & Mary Codd & Tony Fahey, 2017. "Lifetime Childlessness, Depressive Mood and Quality of Life Among Older Europeans," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 305-323, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:130:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-015-1177-1
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-015-1177-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Umberson, Debra, 1992. "Gender, marital status and the social control of health behavior," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 907-917, April.
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    3. Matthew Andersson & Jennifer Glass & Robin Simon, 2014. "Users Beware: Variable Effects of Parenthood on Happiness Within and Across International Datasets," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 115(3), pages 945-961, February.
    4. Karsten Hank & Michael Wagner, 2013. "Parenthood, Marital Status, and Well-Being in Later Life: Evidence from SHARE," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 639-653, November.
    5. Thomas Hansen & Britt Slagsvold & Torbjørn Moum, 2009. "Childlessness and Psychological Well-Being in Midlife and Old Age: An Examination of Parental Status Effects Across a Range of Outcomes," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 94(2), pages 343-362, November.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Christoph Becker & Isadora Kirchmaier & Stefan T Trautmann, 2019. "Marriage, parenthood and social network: Subjective well-being and mental health in old age," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(7), pages 1-20, July.
    2. Katherine Keenan & Emily Grundy, 2019. "Fertility History and Physical and Mental Health Changes in European Older Adults," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 35(3), pages 459-485, July.
    3. Aassve, Arnstein & Luppi, Francesca & Pronzato, Chiara & Pudney, Steve, 2020. "Lifetime events and the well-being of older people," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 202001, University of Turin.
    4. David Cantarero-Prieto & Marta Pascual-Sáez & Carla Blázquez-Fernández, 2018. "What is Happening with Quality of Life Among the Oldest People in Southern European Countries? An Empirical Approach Based on the SHARE Data," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 1195-1209, December.
    5. Tosi, Marco & van den Broek, Thijs, 2020. "Gray divorce and mental health in the United Kingdom," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 256(C).
    6. David Reher & Miguel Requena, 2017. "Elderly women living alone in Spain: the importance of having children," European Journal of Ageing, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 311-322, September.
    7. Vanessa Burholt & Bethan Winter & Marja Aartsen & Costas Constantinou & Lena Dahlberg & Villar Feliciano & Jenny Jong Gierveld & Sofie Regenmortel & Charles Waldegrave, 2020. "A critical review and development of a conceptual model of exclusion from social relations for older people," European Journal of Ageing, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 3-19, March.

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    Keywords

    Well-being; Ageing; Childlessness;

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