Pathways to well-being in later life

socioeconomic and health determinants across the life course of Australian baby boomers

Hal Kendig, Vanessa Loh, Kate O'Loughlin, Julie E. Byles, James Y. Nazroo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

In many countries like Australia and the United States, baby boomers are referred to as the 'lucky cohort', yet there has been little research on the origins and extent of inequalities within this cohort. This study uses path analysis to investigate direct and indirect effects of childhood and adult socioeconomic status and health on two subjective well-being measures: quality of life and life satisfaction. Retrospective life course data were obtained for 1,261 people aged 60 to 64 in the 2011-12 Life Histories and Health survey, a sub-study of the Australian 45 and Up Study. Supporting an accumulation model, the number of negative childhood and adult exposures were inversely related to both types of well-being. Consistent with a critical period model, childhood exposures had small but significant effects on subjective well-being and were relatively more important for quality of life than for life satisfaction. However, these childhood effects were largely indirect and significantly mediated by more proximal adult exposures, providing support for a pathway model. A key implication of this research is that the critical period for later life well-being is significant in adulthood rather than childhood, suggesting that there may be key opportunities for improving individuals' later life well-being far beyond the early, formative years. This research highlights the importance of understanding how earlier life exposures impact experiences in later life, and investing in health and socioeconomic opportunities to reduce inequalities across all stages of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-67
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Population Ageing
Volume9
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • social determinants
  • socioeconomic status
  • childhood exposures
  • quality of life
  • life satisfaction
  • social mobility

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