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Social participation and life satisfaction among older adults: diversity of practices and social inequality in Switzerland

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Document pages: 25 pages

Abstract: This paper examines the associations between social participation and individual life satisfaction among older adults. It specifically considers the diversity of the practices and social inequalities among this population. For analyses, we used a large survey of individuals of 65 years and older conducted in 2011 in Switzerland (N = 2,727). The first set of linear regression analyses examines Diener s Satisfaction with Life Scale and its association with various indicators of social participation. While the second set of logistic regression addresses the issue of social inequalities by evaluating the impacts of gender, age group, region and education on social participation indicators that are significantly associated with the satisfaction with life score. Our results stressed the importance of combining multiple forms of participation for life satisfaction and shows that some forms are particularly meaningful: in particular, the involvement in associations, visitation of family or visitation of friends acquaintances and church attendance. When inequalities among older adults are considered, having rich and varied social participation, being involved in associations and maintaining private sociability with non-kin appear more elitist. While institutionalised and or private sociability types of participation appear particularly significant for older adults’ life satisfaction, the most traditional integration forms – i.e. family and religions – are crucial for the more vulnerable. Implications for active ageing was equally discussed as well.

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