Does Life Satisfaction Change in Old Age: Results From an 8-Year Longitudinal Study

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Abstract

Objectives.

The unexpected positive relationship between aging and happiness was called “the paradox of well-being,” which is still a matter of debate. This study examined longitudinal change in life satisfaction (LS) in older adults.

Methods.

LS was assessed with the satisfaction with life scale, in a sample of individuals (N = 899; aged 62–95 years, at first occasion; M = 72.73, SD = 5.68) for a period of 8 years (5 waves of data). A multiple indicator (e.g., second order) growth modeling was used to assess change in LS.

Results.

Findings from both unconditional and conditional model (in which time-invariant, i.e., age, gender, and education, and time-varying, i.e., self-perceived health, covariates were incorporated in the model) indicated a linear increase in LS for the 8-year period. As expected, the results showed significant random variation in both intercept and slope, indicating that participants start at different levels and change at different rates.

Discussion.

Our findings contribute to the debate concerning the paradox of well-being, which calls for explanation. There are few theories that provide some explanation (e.g., the socioemotional selectivity theory). However, to enhance researchers’ understanding of developmental changes that contribute to the paradox of well-being, a more integrative theoretical model is needed.

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