Toward a Global Geroethics – Gerontology and the Theory of the Good Human Life

May 5, 2018

Gerontologists have proposed different concepts for ageing well such as ‘successful ageing’, ‘active ageing’, and ‘healthy ageing’. These conceptions are primarily focused on maintaining health and preventing disease. But they also raise the questions: what is a good life in old age and how can it be achieved? While medical in origin, these concepts and strategies for ageing well also contain ethical advice for individuals and societies on how to act regarding ageing and old age. This connection between gerontology and ethics is overlooked by both schools of thought. We thus develop this research programme for a systematic geroethics in four steps. First, we analyze ‘successful ageing’ as put forward by Rowe and Kahn as a paradigmatic example of a gerontological conception of ageing well. Then, in a second step, we move from criticisms within gerontology to an ethical perspective; in particular, we want to clarify the problem of the claim of universal validity of conceptions of the good life. In a third constructive step, we explain how the ‘capabilities approach’ could be applied in this context as a normative foundation for the implicit normative assumptions of gerontological conceptions of ageing well, such as a particular choice of functionings, the ethical relevance of human agency, and the resulting claims of individuals towards society. Finally, using a concept developed by the German philosopher Ursula Wolf, we systematically develop the different aspects of the connection between ageing well and the theory of the good life in their full complexity and show their interconnectedness.

via Toward a Global Geroethics – Gerontology and the Theory of the Good Human Life by Hans‐Joerg Ehni, Selma Kadi, Maartje Schermer, Sridhar Venkatapuram :: SSRN


The Transmission of Mental Health within Households: Does One Partner’s Mental Health Influence the Other Partner’s Life Satisfaction?

May 5, 2018

This paper investigates the relationship between partner’s mental health and individual life satisfaction, using a sample of married and cohabitating couples from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics of Australia Survey (HILDA). We use panel data models with fixed effects to estimate the life satisfaction impact of several different measures of partner’s mental health and to calculate the Compensating Income Variation (CIV) of them. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper to study the effect of partner’s mental health on individual’s wellbeing and to measure the impact of reduced life satisfaction in monetary terms.We also provide some new insights into adaptation and coping mechanisms. Accounting for measurement error and endogeneity of income, partners’ mental health has a significant and sizeable association with individual well-being. The additional income needed to compensate someone living with a partner with a long term mental condition is substantial (over USD 60,000). Further, individuals do not show significant adaptation to partners’ poor mental health conditions, and coping mechanisms show little influence on life satisfaction. The results have implications for policy-makers wishing to value the wider effects of policies that aim to impact on mental health and overall levels of well-being.

via The Transmission of Mental Health within Households: Does One Partner’s Mental Health Influence the Other Partner’s Life Satisfaction? by Silvia Mendolia, Paul McNamee, Oleg Yerokhin :: SSRN


Finding Purpose for a Good Life. But Also a Healthy One

January 1, 2018

Another study followed more than 6,000 individuals over 14 years and found that those with greater purpose were 15 percent less likely to die than those who were aimless, and that having purpose was protective across the life span — for people in their 20s as well as those in their 70s.

via Finding Purpose for a Good Life. But Also a Healthy One. – The New York Times


Measuring Individual Economic Well‐Being and Social Welfare within the Framework of the System of National Accounts

December 18, 2017

While the agenda of “beyond GDP” encompasses measurements that lie outside boundaries of the System of National Accounts, key aspects of individual well‐being and social welfare can be incorporated into an SNA framework. We bring together the relevant theoretical literature and the empirical tools needed for this purpose. We show how consumption‐based measures of economic welfare can be integrated into the national accounts without changing their production or asset boundary. At the same time, explicit normative and methodological choices are required to select a social welfare function. The paper provides guidance how to make these choices transparent and how to present social welfare measures.

via Measuring Individual Economic Well‐Being and Social Welfare within the Framework of the System of National Accounts by Dale Jorgenson , Paul Schreyer :: SSRN


Happiness for All? Unequal Hopes and Lives in Pursuit of the American Dream

December 17, 2017

The Declaration of Independence states that all people are endowed with certain unalienable rights, and that among these is the pursuit of happiness. But is happiness available equally to everyone in America today? How about elsewhere in the world? Carol Graham draws on cutting-edge research linking income inequality with well-being to show how the widening prosperity gap has led to rising inequality in people’s beliefs, hopes, and aspirations.

For the United States and other developed countries, the high costs of being poor are most evident not in material deprivation but rather in stress, insecurity, and lack of hope. The result is an optimism gap between rich and poor that, if left unchecked, could lead to an increasingly divided society. Graham reveals how people who do not believe in their own futures are unlikely to invest in them, and how the consequences can range from job instability and poor education to greater mortality rates, failed marriages, and higher rates of incarceration. She describes how the optimism gap is reflected in the very words people use—the wealthy use words that reflect knowledge acquisition and healthy behaviors, while the words of the poor reflect desperation, short-term outlooks, and patchwork solutions. She also explains why the least optimistic people in America are poor whites, not poor blacks or Hispanics.

Happiness for All? highlights the importance of well-being measures in identifying and monitoring trends in life satisfaction and optimism—and misery and despair—and demonstrates how hope and happiness can lead to improved economic outcomes.

via Graham, C.: Happiness for All?: Unequal Hopes and Lives in Pursuit of the American Dream (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press


Does Marriage Make Us Healthier? Evidence from Middle-Aged and Older Japanese

December 17, 2017

This study investigated health premium of marriage among middle-aged and older Japanese. Using a unique longitudinal micro dataset for Japanese aged 45–80 years in 2007, we applied a dynamic panel data model and utilized both subjective and objective health indicators for 4,386 observations from 2008 to 2012. We found significant marriage–health premium among middle-aged Japanese, while the evidence for older Japanese was inconclusive. This is the first study addressing the endogeneity between marriage and health to confirm the protective effect of marriage on health for middle-aged and older people in Japan, which sounds an alarm for Japanese health policies facing the late marriage and rising divorce rates owing to the receding economy and shifting social norms.

via Does Marriage Make Us Healthier? Evidence from Middle-Aged and Older Japanese by Rong FU, Haruko Noguchi :: SSRN


An Hour of Running May Add 7 Hours to Your Life – The New York Times

April 13, 2017

an hour of running statistically lengthens life expectancy by seven hours, the researchers report.