Everything under Control?: The Effects of Age, Gender, and Education on Trajectories of Perceived Control in a Nationally Representative German Sample
Perceived control is an important variable for various demands involved in successful aging. However, perceived control is not set in stone, but rather changes throughout the life course. The aim of this study was to identify cross-sectional age differences and longitudinal mean-level changes as well as rank-order changes in perceived control with respect to sex and education. Furthermore, changes in income and health were analyzed to explain trajectories of perceived control. In a large and representative sample of Germans across all of adulthood, 9,484 individuals gave information about their perceived control twice over a period of 6 years. Using LOESS curves and latent structural equation modeling, four main findings were revealed: (a) Perceived control increased until ages 30 to 40, then decreased until about age 60, and increased slightly afterwards; (b) The rank order of individuals in perceived control was relatively unstable, especially in young adulthood, and reached a plateau at about age 40; (c) Men perceived that they had more control than women did, but there were no sex differences in the development of perceived control; (d) Individuals with more education perceived that they had more control than those with less education, and there were slight differences in the development of perceived control dependent on education. Taken together, these findings offer important insights into the development of perceived control across the life span.
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