IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/diw/diwsop/diw_sp286.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Late-Life Decline in Well-Being across Adulthood in Germany, the UK, and the US: Something Is Seriously Wrong at the End of Life

Author

Listed:
  • Denis Gerstorf
  • Nilam Ram
  • Guy Mayraz
  • Mira Hidajat
  • Ulman Lindenberger
  • Gert G. Wagner
  • Jürgen Schupp

Abstract

Throughout adulthood and old age, levels of well-being appear to remain relatively stable. However, evidence is emerging that late in life well-being declines considerably. Using long-term longitudinal data of deceased participants in national samples from Germany, the UK, and the US, we examine how long this period lasts. In all three nations and across the adult age range, well-being was relatively stable over age, but declined rapidly with impending death. Articulating notions of terminal decline associated with impending death, we identified prototypical transition points in each study between three and five years prior to death, after which normative rates of decline steepened by a factor of three or more. The findings suggest that mortality-related mechanisms drive late-life changes in well-being and highlight the need for further refinement of psychological concepts about how and when late-life declines in psychosocial functioning prototypically begin.

Suggested Citation

  • Denis Gerstorf & Nilam Ram & Guy Mayraz & Mira Hidajat & Ulman Lindenberger & Gert G. Wagner & Jürgen Schupp, 2010. "Late-Life Decline in Well-Being across Adulthood in Germany, the UK, and the US: Something Is Seriously Wrong at the End of Life," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 286, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp286
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.354232.de/diw_sp0286.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bruce Headey, 2008. "Life Goals Matter to Happiness: A Revision of Set-Point Theory," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 86(2), pages 213-231, April.
    2. Verbrugge, Lois M. & Jette, Alan M., 1994. "The disablement process," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 1-14, January.
    3. Oliver Schilling, 2006. "Development of Life Satisfaction in Old Age: Another View on the "Paradox''," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 75(2), pages 241-271, January.
    4. Dee A. Haynie & Stig Berg & Boo Johansson & Margaret Gatz & Steven H. Zarit, 2001. "Symptoms of Depression in the Oldest Old," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 56(2), pages 111-118.
    5. Ulman Lindenberger & Tania Singer & Paul B. Baltes, 2002. "Longitudinal Selectivity in Aging Populations," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 57(6), pages 474-482.
    6. Ute Kunzmann, 2008. "Differential Age Trajectories of Positive and Negative Affect: Further Evidence From the Berlin Aging Study," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 63(5), pages 261-270.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Bruce Headey & Ruud Muffels, 2016. "Towards a Theory of Life Satisfaction: Accounting for Stability, Change and Volatility in 25-Year Life Trajectories in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 864, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Bruce Headey & Ruud Muffels, 2018. "A Theory of Life Satisfaction Dynamics: Stability, Change and Volatility in 25-Year Life Trajectories in Germany," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 140(2), pages 837-866, November.
    3. Liu, Sarah Y. & Wrosch, Carsten & Morin, Alexandre J.S. & Quesnel-Vallée, Amélie & Pruessner, Jens C., 2019. "Changes in self-esteem and chronic disease across adulthood: A 16-year longitudinal analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 242(C).
    4. Denis Gerstorf & Gert G. Wagner, 2010. "Lebenszufriedenheit am Ende des Lebens in Ost- und Westdeutschland: die DDR wirft einen langen Schatten," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 320, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    5. Karlsson, Martin & Klohn, Florian, 2011. "Some notes on how to catch a red herring - Ageing, time-to-death and care costs for older people in Sweden," HERO Online Working Paper Series 2011:6, University of Oslo, Health Economics Research Programme.
    6. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2019. "Do Humans Suffer a Psychological Low in Midlife? Two Approaches (With and Without Controls) in Seven Data Sets," Springer Books, in: Mariano Rojas (ed.), The Economics of Happiness, chapter 0, pages 439-453, Springer.
    7. Adrian Chadi, 2019. "Dissatisfied with life or with being interviewed? Happiness and the motivation to participate in a survey," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 53(3), pages 519-553, October.
    8. Marcel Erlinghagen & Christoph Kern & Petra Stein, 2019. "Internal Migration, Social Stratification and Dynamic Effects on Subjective Well Being," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1046, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    9. Gerstorf, Denis & Hoppmann, Christiane A. & Löckenhoff, Corinna E. & Infurna, Frank J. & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2016. "Terminal Decline in Well-Being: The Role of Social Orientation," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 31(2), pages 149-165.
    10. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2019. "Unhappiness and Pain in Modern America: A Review Essay, and Further Evidence, on Carol Graham's Happiness for All?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 57(2), pages 385-402, June.
    11. Bruce Headey & Ruud Muffels & Gert Wagner, 2013. "Choices Which Change Life Satisfaction: Similar Results for Australia, Britain and Germany," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 112(3), pages 725-748, July.
    12. Johannes Klement, 2021. "Identifying Stabilising Effects on Survey Based Life Satisfaction Using Quasi-maximum Likelihood Estimation," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 22(8), pages 3611-3629, December.
    13. Janina Nemitz, 2022. "Increasing longevity and life satisfaction: is there a catch to living longer?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 35(2), pages 557-589, April.
    14. Moé Kishida & Steriani Elavsky, 2017. "A Daily Process Approach to Depict Satisfaction with Life during the Menopausal Transition: Physical (In)activity, Symptoms, and Neuroticism," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 631-645, June.
    15. Karlsson, Martin & Klohn, Florian, 2011. "Some notes on how to catch a red herring Ageing, time-to-death & care costs for older people in Sweden," Publications of Darmstadt Technical University, Institute for Business Studies (BWL) 77470, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute for Business Studies (BWL).
    16. Marcel Raab & Anette Fasang & Moritz Hess, 2018. "Pathways to death: The co-occurrence of physical and mental health in the last years of life," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 38(53), pages 1619-1634.
    17. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini & Francesco Sarracino, 2013. "Predicting the Trend of Well-Being in Germany: How Much Do Comparisons, Adaptation and Sociability Matter?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 169-191, November.
    18. Miha Dominko & Miroslav Verbič, 2019. "Subjective well-being among the elderly: A bibliometric analysis," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 53(3), pages 1187-1207, May.
    19. Jens Ambrasat & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2011. "Comparing the Predictive Power of Subjective and Objective Health Indicators: Changes in Hand Grip Strength and Overall Satisfaction with Life as Predictors of Mortality," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 398, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    20. Raab, Marcel & Fasang, Anette Eva & Hess, Moritz, 2018. "Pathways to death: The co-occurrence of physical and mental health in the last years of life," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 38, pages 1619-1634.
    21. Bert Van Landeghem, 2012. "Panel Conditioning and Self-Reported Satisfaction: Evidence from International Panel Data and Repeated Cross-Sections," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 484, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    22. Gerstorf, Denis & Heckhausen, Jutta & Ram, Nilam & Infurna, Frank J. & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert, 2014. "Perceived Personal Control Buffers Terminal Decline in Well-Being," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 29(3), pages 612-625.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Denis Gerstorf & Nilam Ram & Jan Goebel & Jürgen Schupp & Ulman Lindenberger & Gert G. Wagner, 2010. "Where People Live and Die Makes a Difference: Individual and Geographic Disparities in Well-Being Progression at the End of Life," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 287, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Oliver Schilling & Hans-Werner Wahl & Frank Oswald, 2013. "Change in Life Satisfaction Under Chronic Physical Multi-morbidity in Advanced Old Age: Potential and Limits of Adaptation," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-36, March.
    3. van Zon, Sander K.R. & Bültmann, Ute & Reijneveld, Sijmen A. & de Leon, Carlos F. Mendes, 2016. "Functional health decline before and after retirement: A longitudinal analysis of the Health and Retirement Study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 26-34.
    4. Paul Schumann & Lars Kuchinke, 2020. "Do(n’t) Worry, It’s Temporary: The Effects of Fixed-Term Employment on Affective Well-Being," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 21(7), pages 2557-2582, October.
    5. Prinz, Aloys & Bünger, Björn, 2009. "From full life to balanced life: Extending Martin Seligman's route to happiness," CAWM Discussion Papers 17, University of Münster, Münster Center for Economic Policy (MEP).
    6. Schupp, Jürgen, 2009. "25 Jahre Sozio-oekonomisches Panel - ein Infrastrukturprojekt der empirischen Sozial- und Wirtschaftsforschung in Deutschland," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 38(5), pages 350-357.
    7. Trzcinski, Eileen & Holst, Elke, 2011. "A Critique and Reframing of Personality in Labour Market Theory: Locus of Control and Labour Market Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 6090, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. John F. Helliwell & Haifang Huang & Max B. Norton & Shun Wang, 2019. "Happiness at Different Ages: The Social Context Matters," Springer Books, in: Mariano Rojas (ed.), The Economics of Happiness, chapter 0, pages 455-481, Springer.
    9. Badley, Elizabeth M., 2008. "Enhancing the conceptual clarity of the activity and participation components of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(11), pages 2335-2345, June.
    10. Newton, Nicky J. & Ryan, Lindsay H. & King, Rachel T. & Smith, Jacqui, 2014. "Cohort differences in the marriage–health relationship for midlife women," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 64-72.
    11. Plaisier, Inger & Verbeek-Oudijk, Debbie & de Klerk, Mirjam, 2017. "Developments in home-care use. Policy and changing community-based care use by independent community-dwelling adults in the Netherlands," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 82-89.
    12. Lee, Christopher Thomas & Guzman, David & Ponath, Claudia & Tieu, Lina & Riley, Elise & Kushel, Margot, 2016. "Residential patterns in older homeless adults: Results of a cluster analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 131-140.
    13. Ingebjørg Kristoffersen, 2010. "The Metrics of Subjective Wellbeing: Cardinality, Neutrality and Additivity," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 86(272), pages 98-123, March.
    14. Levasseur, Mélanie & Richard, Lucie & Gauvin, Lise & Raymond, Émilie, 2010. "Inventory and analysis of definitions of social participation found in the aging literature: Proposed taxonomy of social activities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(12), pages 2141-2149, December.
    15. Dusanee Kesavayuth & Robert E. Rosenman & Vasileios Zikos, 2016. "Retirement, Personality, And Well-Being," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(2), pages 733-750, April.
    16. Bruce Headey & Ruud Muffels & Gert Wagner, 2013. "Choices Which Change Life Satisfaction: Similar Results for Australia, Britain and Germany," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 112(3), pages 725-748, July.
    17. Wei Chen & Ya Fang & Fanzhen Mao & Shichao Hao & Junze Chen & Manqiong Yuan & Yaofeng Han & Y Alicia Hong, 2015. "Assessment of Disability among the Elderly in Xiamen of China: A Representative Sample Survey of 14,292 Older Adults," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 10(6), pages 1-12, June.
    18. Daniel Wheatley & Zhongmin Wu, 2014. "Dual careers, time-use and satisfaction levels: evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(5), pages 443-464, September.
    19. Bruce Headey & Gisela Trommsdorff & Gert G. Wagner, 2022. "Alternative Recipes for Life Satisfaction: Evidence from Five World Regions," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 17(2), pages 763-794, April.
    20. West, Jessica S., 2017. "Hearing impairment, social support, and depressive symptoms among U.S. adults: A test of the stress process paradigm," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 192(C), pages 94-101.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Selective mortality; successful aging; differential aging; psychosocial factors; well-being; multiphase growth model;
    All these keywords.

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists, Wikipedia, or ReplicationWiki pages:
    1. SOEP based publications

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp286. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Bibliothek (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/sodiwde.html .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.