WHAT MAKES OLDER PEOPLE HAPPY?

Tuesday 28 February 2012

In fascinating new findings, Saga has discovered that when it comes to how our relationships impact on how happy we feel, older women’s feelings are more dictated by relationships with their friends than with their spouse or children, compared to older men, whose happiness is most importantly influenced by their relationship with their spouse.

WHAT MAKES OLDER PEOPLE HAPPY?

 

Apart from health, the factors which determine happiness for the over 50s are relationships with friends and family and their hobbies or interests.  Intriguingly, 89% of men say their happiness is dictated by their relationship with their spouse/partner – it is the number one factor. However, a lesser 73% of women cite this as important, and for them, the partner relationship only ranks number six. Women’s happiness is more likely dictated by their friends (90%) compared to men (80%).


Perhaps unsurprisingly, more men than women cite their sexual relationship as being an important influence on their happiness (over half of men - 52%, and only around a third of women - 35%).


Saga’s survey of over 10,000 over 50s shows that relationships with our children are equally important to both men and women (84%), and this relationship becomes a more important factor in shaping our happiness as we get older, with 75% of people in their 50s deeming children an important influence on happiness, rising to 85% of people in their 60s and 90% of people in their 70s and over.


Other clear trends are revealed with age, as work and money become less important factors in shaping happiness as you get older and relationships with grandchildren become more so.


Commenting on the findings, Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General, Saga said: “We were astonished to see that men say their relationship with their partner is the primary influence on their happiness, while for women, it only ranks sixth. Our findings suggest just how vital maintaining a healthy network of friends in older age is, for women especially, and perhaps how reliant on their spouses, older men can be.”

Factors influencing the happiness of Britain's over 50s:

 MALE       FEMALE

 1

My relationship with my spouse/partner 

89% 

 

 1

My relationship with my friends 

90% 

 2

My partner's or family's health 

88% 

 

 2

My money/financial situation

89% 

 3

My money/financial situation

87%

 

 3

My partner's or family's health 

84% 

 4

My relationship with my children

84% 

 

 4

My realtionship with my children

84% 

 5

My relationship with my friends 

80%

 

 5

My hobbies/interests 

79% 

 6

My hobbies/interests

76% 

 

 6

My relationship with my spouse/partner 

74% 

 7

My relationship with my grandchildren

62%

 

 7

My relationship with my grandchildren    

64% 

 8

My sexual relationship 

52% 

 

 8

External factors seen in the news 

52%

 9

External factors seen in the news

46%

 

 9

My work 

40% 

 10

My work

31% 

 

 10

My sexual relationship

35% 

These findings come as part of Saga’s Quarterly Report series, which assesses the quality of life of Britain’s 21 million people over 50. Dr Ros Altmann said: “We know that health and wealth are significant determinants of happiness, but there are other important ingredients as well.  Relationships with partners, family and friends, hobbies and interests are all essential parts of people’s wellbeing and Saga will be tracking changes in these measures every quarter.”


 

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Over 50s average and age breaks

How important are the following factors in influencing your happiness?

 Average: all over 50s surveyed 50s  60s 70s+

My money/financial situation

 88%   90% 88% 86% 

My partner's or family's health

87%  85% 88%  86% 

My relationship with my children

84%  75%  85%  90% 

My relationship with my ffriends

 84%  80% 85%  86% 

My relationship with my spouse/partner 

83%   83%  85%  84% 

My hobbies/interests 

77% 72% 79%  79% 

My relationship with my grandchildren 

62%  35%  65%  81% 

External factors seen in the news 

48%  41%  49%  54% 

My sexual relationship 

 46%   55%  48% 34% 

My work 

34%  64%  29%  17% 

My health 

94% 93%  95%  95% 

 

Populus interviewed 10,864 people over 50 between 25th January and 1st February 2012.

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