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: 1.23). 12/2011; 32(01):41 - 59. DOI: 10.1017/S0144686X11000080


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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Available from: Sarang Kim, Mar 30, 2014
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    • "Secondly, although the four countries studied here are currently considered to have very high levels of human development [42], the present economic circumstances of older people in these countries may not be equivalent. It is possible that the very rapid and later social improvements in Korea, which contrast with earlier improvements in population level economic well-being in the other countries, may not have benefited older people as much as younger people [43]. A related factor may be emergent tensions in filial expectations and supports. "
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