How does Living Alone or with a Partner Influence Life Satisfaction among Older Men and Women in Europe?

Quality of life of the over-60s in Europe: a gender perspective
By Joëlle Gaymu, Sabine Springer, Lynda Stringer


This article looks at the influence of living conditions on the life satisfaction of men and women over 60 years of age in ten European countries using data from the European survey SHARE 2004 (wave 1). Whether living alone or with a partner, women report being less satisfied with their lives than men. Multivariate analyses show that, depending on living arrangements, differences are not of the same nature. All other things being equal, women living with a partner are still less frequently satisfied with life than men, but the factors determining their well-being are similar. For persons living alone, the finding is reversed: gender has no incidence on the level of life satisfaction, but influences its determinants. For example, women’s subjective well-being is affected by whether or not they are home-owners and, to a lesser extent, by their income level and the quality of their living environment, while for men, the existence of a child is a determinant of well-being. Older women’s life satisfaction is more strongly shaped by their sociocultural context than is the case for men. Women who live alone have different sources of well-being, depending on whether they live in northern or southern Europe. These contrasts mainly emerge in the relationship between family roles and economic status.


  • life satisfaction
  • ageing
  • gender
  • Europe
  • living alone
  • living with a partner
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