Where People Live and Die Makes a Difference: Individual and Geographic Disparities in Well-Being Progression at the End of Life

52 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2010

See all articles by Denis Gerstorf

Denis Gerstorf

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Nilam Ram

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jan Goebel

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - SOEP

Jürgen Schupp

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); Institute for Sociology, Freie Universität; The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Ulman Lindenberger

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Gert G. Wagner

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); Berlin University of Technology; German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP)

Date Written: April 2010

Abstract

Lifespan psychological research has long been interested in the contextual embeddedness of individual development. To examine if and how regional factors relate to between-person disparities in the progression of late-life well-being, we applied three-level growth curve models to 24-year longitudinal data from deceased participants of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (N = 3,427; age at death: 18 to 101 years). Results indicate steep declines in well-being with impending death, with some 8% of the between-person differences in both level and decline of well-being reflecting between-county differences. Exploratory analyses revealed that individuals living and dying in less affluent counties reported lower late-life well-being, controlling for key individual predictors including age at death, gender, education, and household income. The regional factors examined did not directly relate to well-being change, but were found to moderate (e.g., amplify) the disparities in change attributed to individual factors. Our results suggest that resource-poor counties provide relatively less fertile grounds for successful aging until the end of life and may serve to exacerbate disparities. We conclude that examinations of how individual and residential characteristics interact can further our understanding of individual psychological outcomes and suggest routes for future inquiry.

Keywords: Neighborhoods, Selective mortality, successful aging, differential aging, psychosocial factors, well-being, longitudinal methods

JEL Classification: I12, J14, R23

Suggested Citation

Gerstorf, Denis and Ram, Nilam and Goebel, Jan and Schupp, Juergen and Lindenberger, Ulman and Wagner, Gert G., Where People Live and Die Makes a Difference: Individual and Geographic Disparities in Well-Being Progression at the End of Life (April 2010). SOEPpaper No. 287. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1588727 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1588727

Denis Gerstorf (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Human Development and Family Studies ( email )

United States
+1-814-867-2131 (Phone)
+1-814-863-9423 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.hhdev.psu.edu/hdfs/directory/bio.aspx?id=126

Nilam Ram

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Jan Goebel

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - SOEP ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany
+49-30-89789-377 (Phone)
+49-30-89789-200 (Fax)

Juergen Schupp

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, D-10117
Germany
+49 30 8 978 9238 (Phone)
+49 30 8 978 9109 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.diw.de/deutsch/das_institut/mitarbeiter/innen/26652.html?uid=jschupp

Institute for Sociology, Freie Universität ( email )

Garystr. 55
I
Berlin, D-14195
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.polsoz.fu-berlin.de/soziologie/mitarbeiter/b_hochschullehrer/schupp.html

The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/index_html?lang=de&mainframe=http%3A//www.iza.org/de/webcontent/personnel/fellows

Ulman Lindenberger

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Gert G. Wagner

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany
+49 30 8 978 9290 (Phone)
+49 30 8 978 9200 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.diw.de/programme/jsp/MA.jsp?language=en&uid=gwagner

Berlin University of Technology ( email )

Straße des 17
Berlin, 10623
Germany
+30 8 978 9283 (Phone)

German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) ( email )

DIW Berlin
10108 Berlin, Berlin
Germany
+49 30 8978 9290 (Phone)
+49 30 8978 9109 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.diw/en/soep

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