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A PFRC/ILC-UK report : 'What is the relationship between financial satisfaction and happiness among older people?'

A working paper by David Hayes of the Personal Finance Research Centre under the financial wellbeing in older age programme of work being carried out in collaboration with the International Longevity Centre-UK and funded by the ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative.

Summary findings from this report:

  • Countries where those aged 50 and above report high levels of financial satisfaction are also likely to report high levels of happiness - of the ten countries reporting the highest levels of financial satisfaction, eight also feature among the ten ‘happiest’.
  • There is a continuous relationship between increasing age and both increasing financial satisfaction and decreasing happiness (without controlling for other factors).
  • Significant proportions of the variation in both self-reported financial dissatisfaction and unhappiness among the over 50s can be attributed to the country that an individual lives in (both before and after controlling for individual-level predictor variables).
  • New Zealand and Sweden were the ‘happiest’ nations (97%), while the Swiss were the most satisfied with their finances (87%).
  • The multilevel models show that being divorced or separated; being unemployed; having low levels of education; self-categorising yourself as lower class and having no savings are strong predictors of both being dissatisfied with your household’s financial situation and reporting being unhappy.
  • Over-50s who see themselves as lower-class have almost three times the odds of being unhappy, and are five times more likely to be dissatisfied with their financial situation.
  • After taking account of individual-level predictor variables, both GDP per capita and geographical grouping are significant country-level predictors of both self-reported happiness and self-reported financial satisfaction.
  • European countries that have previously had communist regimes are likely to report low levels of both self-reported financial satisfaction and happiness, with older Georgians feeling the least financially satisfied (12%), and Moldova ranking as the unhappiest nation for older people (33%).

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