ISR Awards

Disability, Time Use, and Wellbeing Among Older Adults

Understanding the consequences of loss of functioning in later life for subjective wellbeing is of substantial scientific and public health import, given the aging of the population, the high prevalence of disability in later life, and projected increases in the number of older adults with limitations. A limitation of the literature on this topic to date is its exclusive focus on global reports of wellbeing and decontextualized reports of affect. Recent studies have made clear that factors that shape global reports of satisfaction with life do not coincide with those that shape moment-to-moment ?experienced? wellbeing through the day. The 24-hour diary, designed to capture participation in activities on the previous day, has been validated as a means of measuring experienced wellbeing, and thus offers researchers a powerful tool for studying consequences of disablement in daily life. The proposed project will add a time diary supplement for older participants in the longest running and most widely used national panel study in the U.S., the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). When used in combination with PSID?s long-term measures of health, economic wellbeing, and rich familial context, the proposed diary collection will allow unparalleled exploration of mechanisms that promote subjective wellbeing in later life. The overarching goals of this project are: 1) to create a free, publicly available national resource of diary-based measures of time use and wellbeing for older adults in the 2013 PSID; and 2) to undertake new analyses that will refocus the literature on disability and related care on the mechanisms through which participation and wellbeing are maintained in later life. Time diaries will be collected by telephone from approximately 1,750 individuals ages 60 and older and spouses/partners of individuals that age, for one random weekday and one random weekend day. Supplemental questions will focus on disability, evaluative wellbeing, and new items will address quality of relationships, as well as psychological factors such as personality. To promote wide use, data and diary extraction tools will be made available online through the PSID?s public use Data Center and a user workshop will be held in 2015. After releasing the data, the project team will undertake the first national portrait of later-life disability, time use, and affect during the 24-hour day. We will also investigate the role of economic, social, and psychological factors in buffering the effects of disability on time use and experienced wellbeing and the circumstances under which giving time to others yields well being. These analyses are made possible by PSID?s rich panel measures of health, recent and longer-term economic wellbeing, and familial context.