SMABS 2004 Jena University
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European Association of Methodology

Department of methodology and evaluation research

Jena University

Contributions: Abstract

Stability of life-satisfaction in older age

Oliver Schilling
Deutsches Zentrum für Alternsforschung

Empirical evidence of no age-related decline in life satisfaction (LS) in old age contrasts with frequently observed declines in the objective quality of elder people's lives and has therefore been labelled a "paradox" in the respective gerontological discussion.

The missing relation between aging and LS has been interpreted in terms of stability of LS. However, this evidence was mainly derived from cross-sectional age group comparisons and does neither clearly indicate the absence of age-related mean level change, nor intraindividual stability of LS.

Thus, the development of LS in middle and late adulthood was analyzed in longitudinal manner by using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel. Based on single item measures of LS across 16 repeated panel waves with one per annum (1984-1999), autoregressive (quasi-Markov) structural equation models were used to estimate true score variances and intraindividual true score stability in one-year intervals. Research questions concerned (a) "monotonic" stability and variance in a subsample of old respondents (born before 1925) as compared to the total sample and (b) change in stability and variances over the 16 panel waves.

Results indicate high "monotonic" true score stability of LS over the whole adult life span. Neither stability nor variances did increase substantially over the observation interval.