This seminar will synthesize the methods used in constructing the Age UK’s Index of Well-being in Later Life “WILL”. Some early findings and their policy implications will also be discussed in this seminar.
In constructing the WILL Index, we used the first four waves of Understanding Society, the UK’s Household Longitudinal Survey, covering the period between 2009 and 2014. Before advanced statistical modelling, all insights obtained were further ‘sense checked’ in focus group discussions with older men and women and in consultations with the expert group. Next, we applied Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), for identifying significant components of well-being as a ‘non-observed’ latent concept, these were then used to predict individual scores of well-being for all persons included in the dataset.
This method enabled us to determine the well-being score for each individual, making it possible to analyse unequal experiences of well-being among older people in the UK. Then Principal Component Analysis (PCA) helped us to categorise the significant 40+ variables we had under five different domains: Personal/ Social/ Health/ Resources/ Local. The Age UK’s Index of Well-being in Later Life was calculated in the final step, drawing from methods adopted previously in UNDP’s Human Development Index and the EC/UNECE’s Active Ageing Index. The Index involved normalisation of the individual indicators and aggregating them to develop the domain-specific indices for each of the five domains, as well as the overall Index bringing all indicators and domains together in a single metric.
Key findings are that the average well-being score for people aged 60+ in the UK is 53.2%, just over half of the highest score attained. The wellbeing gap is largest in the health domain and smallest in the ‘personal’ domain. People who are in the bottom fifth of the well-being score are more than twice as likely to be living alone; be less likely to own their property outright; and much less likely to take part in cultural, social or civic events. They are between three and four times as likely to have a longstanding illness and fourteen times as likely to have three or more diagnosed health conditions. They are more likely not to have any caring responsibilities, but among those who do, they are more likely to be intensive carers.