Lifetime events and the well-being of older people

Francesca Luppi, Arnstein Aassve, Chiara Pronzato and Steve Pudney

Research output: Working paper


This paper investigates the relationships between physical health, work, family history and mental well-being of people aged 50+ years and tests whether their children’s education, family formation and work circumstances also affect their level of depression. We use data for 10 European countries from six waves of the Survey of Health Ageing Retirement in Europe, from which we can observe current circumstances, past events and changes of conditions over time for older parents and their adult children. We find strong beneficial effects of being retired and detrimental effects of bad health conditions. A problematic family of origin, as well as grief over the death of spouses or children, persists over the entire life. Regarding non-coresident adult children, we observe that having children in better working and family conditions beneficially affects parental mental well-being. Geographical variability allows testing of whether the effects vary across different cultural contexts and institutions. Important context heterogeneities emerge: unemployment is more burdensome in countries with more difficult labour market conditions, sickness is less heavy in countries with better healthcare systems and divorce is less bearable in countries characterized by more traditional family values.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • depression, mental health, SHARE, life events


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