The concept of wellbeing is an important theme in international academic research and in public policy agenda. Increasing governmental interests in measuring Subjective Wellbeing (SWB) (see, e.g., Hicks, Tinkler, & Allin, 2013; Stiglitz, Sen, & Fitoussi, 2010) and extensive interdisciplinary work on the subject over the last few decades attest to the importance of wellbeing (Blanchflower & Oswald, 2011; Linton, Dieppe, & Medina-Lara, 2016). The importance of wellbeing and its implications for various outcomes have been discussed in the fields of sociology, economics and psychology, among others. Studies across these fields also examine various determinants of wellbeing (see, e.g., Awaworyi Churchill & Mishra, 2017; Cummins, 2000; Diener & Chan, 2011; Diener & Oishi, 2000; Diener, Oishi, & Lucas, 2003; Diener, Sandvik, Seidlitz, & Diener, 1993; Frankel & Hewitt, 1994; Fredrickson, 2002; Hudson, 2006; Okun, Stock, Haring, & Witter, 1984; Winkelmann, 2009; Zhang & Zhang, 2015). These studies have examined, among others, factors such as income (Headey, Muffels, & Wooden, 2008; Headey & Wooden, 2004), social capital (Hooghe & Vanhoutte, 2011), mode of travel and transport poverty (Awaworyi Churchill & Smyth, 2019; Bergstad et al., 2011), consumption (Hudders & Pandelaere, 2012; Wang, Cheng, & Smyth, 2019), life events (Luhmann, Hofmann, Eid, & Lucas, 2012) and various socioeconomic factors (Haring-Hidore, Stock, Okun, & Witter, 1985; Van der Meer, 2014; Witter, Stock, Okun, & Haring, 1985), as determinants of SWB. Dolan, Peasgood, and White (2008) provide a useful review of the factors associated with wellbeing.
Sitting alongside the broader literature on the determinants of well- being are studies that focus on elderly people. Particularly, the theme of “ageing well” in the gerontology and geriatrics literature (see, e.g., Aberdeen & Bye, 2013; Bowling, 2005; Cosco, Matthew Prina, Perales, Stephan, & Brayne, 2014) has increased interest in understanding the wellbeing of older people (Davey, 2007; Lau & Morse, 2008; Smith, Sim, Scharf, & Phillipson, 2004). The World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of “ageing well” as a global health priority coupled with the rapid increase in the relative number of older people worldwide lends support to the importance of understanding the determinants of cognitive function and wellbeing of older people.
With this book, we seek to build on the existing literature and expand our knowledge of wellbeing among the elderly. As many countries are faced with the challenges of an ageing population, further insights into what influences the wellbeing of the elderly are required to ensure appropriate policies are formulated for healthy ageing. A recent development in the field of wellbeing research as demonstrated in Bache and Scott (2018) places politics centre stage and provides fresh insights that aid our understanding of the significance of wellbeing. Specifically, Bache and Scott (2018) provide a unique collection of chapters that examine the politics of wellbeing and emphasize the state of research on wellbeing in public policy. However, none of the chapters provides insights into the wellbeing of older persons.
The purpose of this book then is to present a series of authoritative case studies that demonstrate how scientific research can discover important insights into the wellbeing of older persons, and so contribute to policies that can expand their capabilities for wellbeing. The case studies have been chosen to include examples from developed and developing countries, and they involve a variety of interdisciplinary research methods. Taken together, the chapters in this book demonstrate the rich opportunities for further research and policy development in this field. Findings from this book are also timely for policymakers across developed and emerging countries interested in promoting the wellbeing of the elderly.