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What happens to happiness when people get older? Socio-economic determinants of life satisfaction in later life

The world population is ageing and this demographic trend has become the subject of numerous research projects and discussions. In Russia, this process has also become a topic for many studies examining socio-economic characteristics and health status of elderly, their retirement behaviours. That said, research on the life satisfaction of Russian seniors and its determinants is still rather scarce. At the same time, revealing the factors of life satisfaction in old age could help develop a sound state policy towards the elderly thus enhancing the well-being of society as a whole. This paper explores the determinants of elderly life satisfaction using micro-data from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey. Our research show that for all Russian seniors aged 55+ the strongest and most common predictors of life satisfaction are: health status, personal income, type of settlement, and social status. We found significant gender differences in factors of life satisfaction: an inverse U-relation of age and happiness is characteristic for the oldest old females only; holding a job enhances life satisfaction for women but not for men; and the education level of seniors has almost no correlation with life satisfaction, while having children decreases an individual’s happiness.