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Direct and indirect influences of socio-economic position on the wellbeing of older adults: a Structural Equation Model using data from the first wave of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing

T 2016 Ageing & Society

Pratschke, J., Haase, T. and McKeown, K. (2016)

The authors use Structural Equation Modelling techniques to analyse the determinants of wellbeing amongst older adults using data from the first wave of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), a rich source of data on people aged
over 50 and living in private households. The analysis uses a two-group linear statistical model to explore the influence of socio-economic position on the wellbeing of men and women, with Full Information Maximum Likelihood estimation to handle missing data. The fit indices for the final model are highly satisfactory and the measurement structure is invariant by gender and age. The results indicate that socio-economic position has a significant direct influence on wellbeing and a strong indirect influence which is mediated by health status and lifestyle. The total standardised effect of Socio-economic Position on Socio-emotional Wellbeing is statistically significant (p ⩽ 0.05) and equal to 0.32 (men) and 0.43 (women), a very strong influence which risks being underestimated in standard multivariate models. The authors conclude that health, cognitive functioning and wellbeing reflect not just the ageing process, but also the impact of social inequalities across the lifecourse and how they are transmitted across different life spheres. These results can help to orient future research on factors which mediate between socio-economic position and wellbeing, an important policy-related issue.