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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2011 Mar;66(2):230-6. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbq089. Epub 2010 Dec 6.

How "successful" do older Europeans age? Findings from SHARE.

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  • 1University of Cologne, Institute of Sociology, Greinstr. 2, 50939 Cologne, Germany.



We estimate comparable prevalence estimates of "successful aging" for 14 European countries and Israel, adding a new cross-nationally comparative perspective to recently published findings for the United States.


Measures for a variety of specific successful aging criteria were derived from baseline interviews of respondents aged 65+ who participated in the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (n=21,493). A multivariate logistic model was run for our global successful aging measure.


Our analysis revealed substantial cross-country variation around a mean value of 8.5%: Although as many as 21.1% of older Danes meet our successful aging criteria, the respective proportion in Poland is only 1.6%. Age, gender, and socioeconomic status are shown to bear highly significant associations with individuals' odds of successful aging.


The observed cross-national variation in successful aging-which continues to exist if population composition is controlled for-highlights the importance of taking into consideration structural factors at the societal level. It also suggests a potential for policy interventions supporting individuals' opportunities for successful aging.

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