Abstracts - ageing strand

Strand organiser: Emily Freeman, London School of Economics

Abstracts are presented in the order they are scheduled for presentation. Please refer to the programme for session timings.

Challenges of ageing for immigrants from India in the UK
Atreyi Majumdar, University of Delhi

Migration both international and internal is not an instinct action of human beings and is not generated by a single impulse. The process of relocation certainly involves some sort of benefit-cost calculations, both tangible and intangible. The intangible component of costs and benefits of migration is neither measurable nor quantifiable even though its overwhelming preponderance on the “migration journey” of the individual and his family has been acknowledged time and again by migration experts.

The intangible cost and benefits of migration may assume different dimensions as one approaches the retirement from active working life in a modern, capitalist society of the West (UK), characterized by markedly different socio-cultural milieu embedded in individual freedom, achievement and materialism. Here, diminished socio-economic standing along with ageism can pose serious challenge for immigrant population while they age in their land of destination away from the “collective” culture of India based on joint-family system encompassing mutual cooperation and interdependence. The non-migratory cost of migration may escalate after retirement for them. Thus I tried to interview the high-income professional Indians in UK who have spent 20 years or more in the land of destination and were aged 50 years and above and were about to retire or had retired already along with some community leaders who have actively contributed to the community life Indians here through telephone, e-mail, post, in 2006. In all I could gather the views of 20 respondents. The prime ageing challenges as mentioned by them were the following:

1. Loneliness and isolation;
2. Retirement and accompanying void and lack of activity;
3. Ill-health;
4. Climate-wet and cold;
5. Stress;
6. Decline in income;
7. Changing values and sharp inter-generational conflicts;
8. Loss of touch with India;

The coping strategy primarily focused on frequent travels to India – spend the winter there and summer in the UK; to be relocated near their children; to participate in the social functions and interact more intensively with friends steeled in the land of destination after retirement and lastly “not to retire” as long as possible.

Email: Atreyi Majumdar: atreyiswadhin@yahoo.com|

The transition to living alone and psychological distress in later life
Juliet Stone, Maria Evandrou, Jane Falkingham; ESRC Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton

Background: Living alone in later life has been linked to poor mental health but less is known about how pathways into living alone affect this association.
Methods: We analyse 21,535 person-years of data from 4,587 participants of the British Household Panel Survey, aged 65+. We follow them for six years (t0-t5), classifying trajectories of living arrangements as: consistently partnered; consistently with children; consistently alone; transition from partnered to alone at t1; transition
from with children to alone at t1. The outcome is General Health Questionnaire (GHQ)-12 caseness (score>3). We analyse the data using multi-level, random-effects logistic regression, controlling for sex, age, activities of daily living, social and material resources.
Results: For those changing from partnered to alone at t1, the odds for GHQ-12 caseness increased substantially at t1 (odds ratio=6.4), but by t3 had returned to the baseline level. Those changing from living with a child at t0 to living alone at t1 were most likely to be a case at t0 (OR=4.1) but by t1 this risk declined to be comparable to the consistently partnered. None of the covariates appeared to explain these associations. Living consistently alone did confer increased odds for GHQ-12 caseness.
Conclusions: Living alone in later life is not in itself a strong risk factor for psychological distress. Making the transition to living alone can have positive or negative effects on GHQ-12 scores, depending on the pathway. This advocates a longitudinal approach in such research, allowing identification of respondents’ location along these trajectories of living arrangements

Email: Juliet Stone: j.stone@soton.ac.uk|

Intergenerational relationships and cognitive functioning of elderly parents
Valeria Bordone, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/OEAW, WU), Vienna University of Economics & Business, & IIASA; Eric Bonsang, ROA, Maastricht University & Netspar

Social interaction has been found to be related to cognitive functioning of older individuals in many studies. Contact with children is an important source of social interactions for older individuals. In this paper we investigate the causal effect of parent-child contacts on parents’ cognitive functioning using the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe. As the correlation between the frequency of contacts and cognitive functioning is likely to be driven by reverse causality or unobserved heterogeneity, we use instrumental variables (IV) approach using the gender ratio of the children as an instrument for the frequency of contacts with their parents. Results from the IV models highlight a significant negative effect of the frequency of contacts with the children on cognitive functioning of the parents. This hints that a high level of support may result in a passive behaviour of the older parents which in turn is detrimental for their cognitive functioning, in accordance with the use-it or lose-it hypothesis.

Email: Valeria Bordone: valeria.bordone@wu.ac.at|

Caring in later life: determinants and policy implications
Athina Vlachantoni, Centre for Research on Ageing and ESRC Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton

The provision of informal care in later life is becoming increasingly important against the background of public expenditure cuts which threaten the level of support provided to older people and their carers. This paper uses data from waves 3 and 4 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing in order to explore the characteristics of carers aged 50 and over. The bivariate analysis explores the patterns of informal care provision in later life, including the hours of care provided per week and the relationship to the person cared for, as well as key socio-economic characteristics, such as housing tenure and the receipt of benefits from the welfare state. The multivariate analysis explores the determinants of becoming a round-the-clock carer in later life, defined as providing more than 110 hours of care per week. The results show that in terms of their health, socio-economic situation and receipt of state support, carers face a disadvantage compared to non-carers, while round-the-clock carers fare worse than other types of carers. Such results raise critical questions about the adequacy of social policy for this group of carers at a time of expenditure cuts.

Email: Dr. Athina Vlachantoni: a.vlachantoni@soton.ac.uk|  

Difference in private pension contributions at older ages in the UK: a three-way cohort analysis
Sarah Wo, University of Southampton

According to Pension Trends, the proportion of UK men of working age (16-64) contributing to a private pension, including occupational, personal or stakeholder schemes, fell from 49% in 1999- 2000 to 38% in 2009-2010 (ONS, 2012). For women (16-59), the figures are 36% and 34% respectively. Using data from the Family Resources Survey from 1994-1995, 1999-2000, 2004- 2005 and 2009-2010, this paper aims to add further analysis by decomposing these figures and investigating the extent of private pension provision variation within and across different cohorts over time, taking into account social-demographic factors including gender and marital status.
Understanding such trends and specific characteristics will enable future changes to the legislative framework to address the particular circumstances of those most likely to be at risk of pension under-provision. Initial findings from a period perspective indicate a downward trend in private pension contribution by younger cohorts (<40), particularly for men. Interestingly, this contrasts with the relatively unchanged levels of provision within these cohorts for both genders over time. There are also notable variations between men and women depending on their marital statuses. Single individuals across all cohorts continue to have a lower propensity to make private pension provision, even as they approach old age, in spite of increasing trends in economic activity across the population as a whole. These findings have far reaching implications for the well-being of future cohorts of older people, especially groups who face inadequate pension provision in addition to inadequate resources of other kinds, such as informal support networks.

Email: Sarah.Wo: sww1g10@soton.ac.uk|

Household composition responses to the South African old age pension
Julia Mase, Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester

Although originally intended as poverty relief for the elderly it is widely acknowledged that the South African pension is, in effect, a household-level poverty alleviation programme. Findings from this study concur with the general consensus in the literature that pensions are treated as household rather than individual income which is shared, albeit disproportionately, between household members. There is a rich body of literature which suggests that households respond to pensions in various significant ways which is not surprising when one considers the high value of
pensions relative to median incomes. The evidence surrounding the nature of changes relating to household composition is, however, limited and mixed. This research provides new empirical evidence with regards to household composition responses to pensions and contributes to research concerning theories of intra-household decision making. This paper presents the findings from an analysis of household composition responses to pensions using survey data collected as part of a separate project on ageing and wellbeing in South Africa and Brazil. Regression Discontinuity Analysis and a standard regression framework are used to consider the cause and effect  relationship between pensions and household composition, considering also the potential for delayed and anticipatory effects. The main conclusions are: subtle but meaningful changes in household composition can be attributed to the pension; whilst overall household size appears to be relatively stable, this masks the finer detail; the gender of the recipient and the locale of the household (rural or urban) play key roles in the outcomes at the household level.

Email: Julia Mase: julia.mase@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk|

The relationship between subjective wellbeing and age in older adults in England
Stephen Jivraj, James Nazroo, Tarani Chandola, Bram Vanhoutte; CCSR, University of Manchester


Subjective wellbeing has been shown to remain fairly stable over the lifecourse. The greatest change is thought to occur in the oldest age when individual objective condition is likely to worsen. In the UK, there is an increasing academic and policy interest in the measuring of subjective wellbeing and its relationship with factors including age. This paper examines age trajectories of individual subjective wellbeing for older adults living in England. Longitudinal analysis is conducted to determine the correlates of change in subjective wellbeing which may explain differences at older age. Established measures of wellbeing (quality of life, life satisfaction, depressive symptoms and social isolation) are used from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a panel study of individuals aged 50 and over. The data from Waves 1 to 5 of ELSA are analysed using a multilevel growth curve model.

Email: Stephen Jivraj: stephen.jivraj@manchester.ac.uk|

Subjective well-being at the ‘Third Age’
Vladimir Kozlov, National Research University - Higher School of Economics,
Department of Demography; Julia Zelikova, National Research University - Higher
School of Economics, Department of Sociology, Laboratory for Comparative Social Research

This paper is devoted to the main differences in Subjective well-being (SWB) of the different demographic cohorts within the ageing process. The main task of this paper is to find distinct lifecourse patterns, time trends, and birth cohort changes in SWB. So that we can understand the current changing in ageing process centered upon the Laslett “third age” theory. We observe the birth cohorts of baby-boomers, War-children and people born slightly before the II World war. The main data source is European Social Survey (5 Rounds from 2002 to 2010). The methodologies of hierarchical age-period-cohort models are used for the analysis. This paper also shed light of cohort, life-course and period variations in social and demographic disparities in subjective wellbeing and cross-country discrepancies between Eastern and Western Europe (generally explained by different living conditions of the mentioned cohorts during the whole period of their lives).

Email: Vladimir Kozlov: kozloww@gmail.com|

Social and spatial inequalities in the impact of retirement on health in the United Kingdom
Alan Marshall, University of Manchester; James Nazroo, University of Manchester; Paul Norman, University of Leeds; Gindo Tampubolon, University of Manchester

This paper makes two contributions. First, we investigate whether the impact of retirement on subsequent health status varies according to an individual’s socio-economic circumstances at retirement. Second, we examine whether there is any evidence for spatial inequalities in the impact of retirement on subsequent health across UK districts. The first part of the paper uses longitudinal data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to test whether certain socioeconomic circumstances, are associated with improvements in the health of individuals following retirement. The second part uses census data (2001) to produce curves of age-specific limiting long term illness rates for all 434 districts across the UK. These curves reveal a ‘retirement
kink’ - where the rise in illness rates with age slows or declines at retirement age indicating possible health improvement after retirement. We categorise districts according to the extent of the retirement kink and interpret our spatial patterns using the findings from our individual analysis of the impact of retirement on subsequent health and a case study involving Merthyr Tydfil, a district with a strong retirement kink. In certain parts of the UK, retirement appears associated with an improvement in self-assessed health. The spatial distributions of different types of occupation (and other socio-economic characteristics) across the UK are likely to be important
explanatory factors for these spatial patterns of post-retirement health improvement. Policies that increase the retirement age uniformly could exacerbate health inequality because those in the least favourable socio-economic conditions may be less able to continue working to older ages.

Email: Alan Marshall: alan.marshall@manchester.ac.uk|

The long-lasting health effects of business cycles: How does exposure to economic booms and ecessions over the life-course impact later-life health?
Philipp Hessel, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Health; Mauricio Avendano, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Health; Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC; Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health


Studies have demonstrated that adverse economic conditions around birth may lead to higher mortality later in life, but no study has yet assessed how exposure to different macro-economic
conditions during other stages in the life-course may have long-lasting health effects. In this study, we examine the long-run effects of economic booms and recessions experienced at various points in the life-course between the ages 15 to 45, which includes several major life-course changes such the transition into the labour market and parenthood. We use data from 13,789 participants in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) in 11 European countries born between 1930 and 1956, linked to country-specific macro-economic conditions during the second half of the 20th century. Using logistic regression we model self-rated health, chronic conditions and functional limitations at ages 50 to 74 as a function of exogenous economic shocks during adulthood. We find strong evidence that a life-history of economic recessions experienced during adulthood has negative and persistent effects on later-life health. For example, an additional recession at ages 26-30 increases the probability of mobility limitations by 35% [OR=1.35; p<0.05], while a boom at these ages decreases the risk of limitations by 13% [OR=0.87; p<0.05].
Similar effects are observed for recessions experienced at later ages. Our findings question existing assumptions about the importance of critical periods by showing that exposure to different economic conditions at various ages during adulthood have cumulative and long-lasting effects on health.

Email: Philipp Hessel: P.Hessel@lse.ac.uk|

 

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