IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Between-Person Disparities in the Progression of Late-Life Well-Being

Listed author(s):
  • Denis Gerstorf
  • Nilam Ram
  • Elizabeth Fauth
  • Jürgen Schupp
  • Gert G. Wagner

Throughout adulthood and old age, levels of well-being appear to remain relatively stable. In this chapter, we argue that focusing on a phase of life during which this positive picture does not necessarily prevail promises to help us better understand between-person disparities in the progression of late-life well-being. In a first step, we review empirical evidence from the German Socio-Economic Panel and other large-scale longitudinal data sets to demonstrate that ubiquitous reports of a "stability-despite-loss phenomenon" of well-being do not generalize into years of life immediately preceding death. Instead, mean-level representations of the end of life are characterized by a rapid deterioration in well-being. In a second step, we highlight the vast heterogeneity in how people experience the last years and consider the role of biopsychosocial individual difference factors to account for such disparities. The select factors reviewed here include socio-demographic characteristics, cognitive fitness, pathology, and disability. In a third step, we argue that macro-contextual factors such as the social, service, and physical characteristics of the communities and societies people are living and dying in also profoundly shape the nature and progression of individual late-life well-being. Our conceptual reasoning forecasts some of the insights that can be gained by pursuing this line of research, but also underscores the challenges researchers must deal with.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 200.

in new window

Length: 41 p.
Date of creation: 2009
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp200
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Mohrenstraße 58, D-10117 Berlin

Phone: xx49-30-89789-671
Fax: xx49-30-89789-109
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. SOEP based publications

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp200. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bibliothek)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.