Measuring Happiness in Old Age
Are Swedes more satisfied in old age than Germans? How can this be measured? And do children make you happy? Our scientist Dr. Thorsten Kneip provides answers to these questions in the new episode of "Ach, Mensch!", a podcast series by the Max Planck Society about the social sciences and humanities. The findings on life satisfaction in old age are based on the large-scale long-term study Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), which is coordinated by the Institute's Social Policy Department, the Munich Center for the Economics of Aging.
SHARE uses interviews conducted at regular intervals to explore the lives of European citizens aged 50 or older from a health, social, economic and environmental perspective. The interdisciplinary study provides researchers and policy-makers with deep insights into the institutional framework of social protection, especially as regards public health, and the socio-economic circumstances of people in 28 European countries and Israel.
The interviews and institutional differences between the countries make it possible to identify the causes of changes in people's living situations. With the help of the extensive data, researchers shed light on, among other things, the interactions of social relationships, material security and physical and mental agility, such as the effects of retirement on cognitive performance and the long-term health consequences of parenthood. For example, using the SHARE data, the researchers found out that especially men benefit from their children with regard to their health development and, as a consequence, also with regard to their life satisfaction in old age.