Daily activities and happiness in later life: The role of work status

Maja Tadic, Wido G. M. Oerlemans, Arnold B. Bakker and Ruut Veenhoven

The aim of this study was to examine the role of work status (i.e. working versus not working) in the relationship between time-use and momentary happiness. We employed a longitudinal research design using monthly assessments via the day reconstruction method over 3 years among 579 older adults. In total, participants reported 84,247 daily activities and accompanying momentary happiness levels. Hierarchical linear modeling results revealed that working older individuals are not happier than nonworking individuals in the overall. However, involvement in work as a daily activity does coincide with higher levels of momentary happiness. Furthermore, working older individuals experience more happiness during relaxing activities, and during weekends, whereas nonworking older individuals experience more happiness during administrative activities. These findings provide novel information on intraindividual differences in lifestyle relating to the everyday happiness between working and nonworking older people which cannot be accurately captured by global survey methods.

Keywords  Aging – Happiness – Day reconstruction method – Retirement – Time-use

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