Cross-national insights into the relationship between wealth and wellbeing: a comparison between Australia, the United States of America and South Korea

Ageing and Society (Impact Factor: 1.16). 12/2011; 32(01):41 - 59. DOI: 10.1017/S0144686X11000080

ABSTRACT The positive relationship between wealth and wellbeing has received considerable attention over the last three decades. However, little is known about how the significance of wealth for the health and wellbeing of older adults may vary across societies. Furthermore, researchers tend to focus mainly on income rather than other aspects of financial resources even though older adults often rely on fixed income, particularly after retirement. Using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey (N=1,431), the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) in the United States of America (USA; N=4,687), and the Korean Longitudinal Study of Ageing (KLoSA; N=5,447), this exploratory cross-national study examined the relationship between wealth satisfaction and objective wealth and wellbeing (measured as self-rated health and life satisfaction) among older Australians, Americans and Koreans (50+ years). Regression analyses showed that wealth satisfaction was associated with wellbeing over and above monetary wealth in all three countries. The relationship between monetary wealth and self-rated health was larger for the US than Australian and Korean samples, while the additional contribution of wealth satisfaction to life satisfaction was larger for the Korean than the Australian and US samples. These findings are discussed in terms of the cultural and economic differences between these countries, particularly as they affect older persons.

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    Journal of Population Ageing 12/2012; 5(4). DOI:10.1007/s12062-012-9072-x
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Self-rated health is commonly employed in research studies that seek to assess the health status of older individuals. Perceptions of health are, however, influenced by individual and societal level factors that may differ within and between countries. This study investigates levels of self-rated health (SRH) and correlates of SRH among older adults in Australia, United States of America (USA), Japan and South Korea. METHODS: Cross-sectional data were drawn from large surveys of older respondents ([greater than or equal to] 65 years) in Australia (n=7,355), USA (n=10,358), Japan (n=3,541) and South Korea (n=3,971), collected between 2000 and 2006. Harmonized variables were developed to represent socioeconomic, lifestyle and health indicators. We then assessed whether these variables, and their potentially different impact in different countries, could account for cross-national differences in levels of SRH. RESULTS: SRH differed significantly between countries, with older Koreans reporting much poorer health than those in the other three nations. This was not the result of biases in response patterns (for example central versus extreme tendency). Health-related correlates of SRH were similar across countries; those with more medical conditions, functional limitations or poor mental health gave poorer ratings. After accounting for the differential impact of determinants in different national contexts, Australians reported better SRH than other nations. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that when examining correlates of SRH, the similarities are greater than the differences between countries. There are however differences in levels of SRH which are not fully accounted for by the health correlates. Broad generalizations about styles of responding are not helpful for understanding these differences, which appear to be country, and possibly cohort specific. When using SRH to characterize the health status of older people, it is important to consider earlier life experiences of cohorts as well as national and individual factors in later life. Further research is required to understand the complex societal influences on perceptions of health.
    BMC Public Health 08/2012; 12(1):649. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-12-649 · 2.32 Impact Factor


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May 19, 2014