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01 Jul 2005

Wellbeing and Dependency among the European Elderly

The Role of Social Integration

Corinne Mette

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European Network of Economic Policy Research Institutes (ENEPRI) Research Report No. 12, 20 pages

This study aims at highlighting the importance of social integration for the wellbeing of dependent elderly persons living at home. This question is important because, as we can observe, social activities are not a priority for social policies regarding the dependent elderly in Europe. Here it is shown that social activities and contacts improve the wellbeing of the dependent elderly. Therefore, as depression is one of the factors leading to a dependency situation, attaching greater importance to social measures that encourage greater social integration of the dependent elderly should stimulate a decrease in their rates of depression, and consequently, allow a reduction in their demand for care too. The data used in this study stem from the European Community Household Panel (ECHP). The major results of this analysis are: health perception is strongly and positively correlated with satisfaction with the main activity. The importance of the correlation decreases somewhat, however, when social integration variables are included in the model. Except for ‘owning a telephone’, these latter variables have equally significant effects on satisfaction with the main activity. Dependent elderly persons who are members of a club, those who often meet their friends and relatives and those who often talk with their neighbours declare a higher satisfaction level than the rest. Satisfaction is largely correlated with the country of residence. Dependent elderly persons from southern countries and from Ireland declare to be less satisfied with their main activity than those from northern or Central Europe. In terms of housing, having a comfortable dwelling leads to higher satisfaction while living in a household consisting of several persons leads to a lower satisfaction. The standard of living is linked with satisfaction: both household and personal income increase satisfaction. Lastly, dependency-related social benefit transfers have no effect on satisfaction with the main activity.