The Multidimensional Structure of Subjective Well-being in Later Life

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Subjective well-being can be measured in different ways, depending on the conceptual perspective one adopts. Hedonic well-being, emphasising emotions and evaluation, is often contrasted with eudemonic well-being, stressing self-actualisation and autonomy. In this paper we investigate the background, structure and compatibility of empirical measures of hedonic and eudemonic well-being in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). We use a confirmatory factor approach to investigate the internal of structure of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale (CES-D), Satisfaction with Life scale (SWLS) and CASP, a measure of quality of life in old age. In a second step, we examine the higher order structure of well-being using these measures. Next to highlighting specific issues about the structure of these measures in connection to older populations, we illustrate that a threefold structure, distinguishing affective, cognitive and eudemonic aspects of well-being, is more informative than the two dimensional hedonic and eudemonic well-being that is often propagated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Population Ageing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Ageing
  • Well-being
  • Measurement


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