Life course influences on quality of life at age 50 years: evidence from the National Child Development Study (1958 British birth cohort study)
Keywords:National Child Development Study, Life course, CASP measure of positive quality of life at older ages, Third Age.
The objectives of this study were to investigate whether prospective data reveal life course influences on quality of life at older ages; to establish a baseline for the evolution of quality of life through the Third Age; and to estimate the relative importance of direct and indirect effects in these life course relationships. We used the age 50 years sweep of the National Child Development Study (1958 British birth cohort study) that included the CASP measure of positive quality of life at older ages, allowing prospective path analysis of life course influences on quality of life at the start of the Third Age. We found that material (social class; deprivation) and psycho-social (family conflict; family fracture) circumstances in childhood and adulthood were linked using path analysis to CASP scores at age 50 years. The strength of these relationships was modest; and their influence was primarily indirect via well-recognised contemporaneous factors. Prospective data revealed life course influences on quality of life at the start of the Third Age. We conclude that the influence of these longitudinal factors is weak in comparison with that of contemporaneous circumstances. In this respect quality of life differs from health.
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