Lifetime Events and the Wellbeing of Older People

Arnstein Aassve, Bocconi University
Francesca Luppi, Bocconi University
Chiara Pronzato , University of Turin
Stephen Pudney, University of Essex

In this paper, using data from the first six waves of SHARE, we look at the determinants of mental wellbeing of people in their old age. We take into account several dimensions of the individual: their marital history, their health and work conditions, their family of origin, the presence and behaviors of adult children, and caring activities towards other members of the extended family. We find strong beneficial effects of being retired and detrimental effects of bad health conditions. A problematic family of origin, as well as the grief over the death of spouses and children, persist over the entire life. Regarding non-coresident adult children, we observe that having better educated children beneficially affects parental mental wellbeing while having unemployed children detrimentally impacts on it, having married children decreases depression while having divorced one increases it more intensely. Finally, spending some regular time with grandchildren increases mental wellbeing.

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 Presented in Session 64. Cross-National Comparisons in Aging