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Study: Americans living with children in old age are more unhappy



Courtesy photo: Living Channel


by Joseph Earnest June 13, 2013


Newscast Media BOSTONA study by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that elderly Americans who live with people under the age of 18, experience worse emotional outcomes, including less happiness and enjoyment, and more stress, worry, and anger than those who do not.


The study shows that outside America, it is common for the elderly to live in multigenerational families. In such instances, the elderly are an integrated, useful, respected part of their families.


The study also shows that those aged between 41-46 with children were 6 percent more likely to experience happiness, while those aged 66-70 were 2 percent less likely to do so. Worry and anger are more elevated in the elderly who live with children.


Among adults between 34-46 years of age, the presence of children is more positive than negative, while the same experience causes more negative emotions in the elderly who live with children, the study shows.


The study shows that an explanation of the negative emotions the elderly experience living with people under the age of 18, is because such living arrangements could indicate poor health, low income, or the inability to live independently on the part of the elderly person. Such conditions as poor health or low income can have a negative effect on one's evaluation of one's life because they associate living with young people as a sign of low status.


In high fertility regions around the world, it is common for the elderly to live with children, and in South Asia and Africa, it is common for the elderly to live with at least one child under the age of  18.


Rich Anglo comprises the English-speaking rich countries, the USA, Canada, Ireland, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. In Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, living with younger children is more prevelant and less associated with negative emotions. Study by National Bureau of Economic Research, June 2013.

However, a reality that is not mentioned in this study is that in Europe and North America, the elderly tend to be less valued by society and are treated as such, while youthfulness is celebrated and rewarded. Below is a screenshot of the lengths advertisers go through to emphasize youthfulness: *Click on image for full story


Advertisers (and the media) have created a false reality about the importance of retaining one's youthfulness, whether it is through cosmetic surgery or the amount of money one is paid on a job based on appearances. It is therefore understandable why a large percentage of the elderly loathe living with the young in the West.

The values are different too.  In the 50s, 60s and 70s, the programming on radio and television was much different.  A person who grew up on I Love Lucy (The Lucy Show), The Andy Griffith Show, Gunsmoke, The Brady Bunch, Bonanza, Hawaii Five-O or M*A*S*H would obviously be shocked at what youngsters watch today, and would probably become even more frustrated having to watch the new reality tv shows.

A combination of lack of respect toward the elderly and a shift in moral values, is something the researchers should have taken into account in determing why the elderly in America are less happy, living with children.

The full study can be downloaded or viewed here. (pop-up)


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