NorLAG Den norske studien av livsløp, aldring og generasjon
Eldre mann og to gutter lager pinnebrød på bål. Tur i fjellet. Foto: colourbox

Older people happier in the Nordic countries

by thomas

Rates of loneliness and depressive symptoms among older adults is up to three times higher in eastern European countries than in north-western Europe. These problems are particularly prevalent among women in the Eastern countries.

Gender differences are comparably minor in the north-western countries. Cross-country and gendered inequalities in late-life wellbeing are largely explained by differences in health, social factors and socio-economic resources, which in turn may be driven by macro-level socio-economic and welfare conditions.

Generous welfare provision and pension spending may moderate the exposure to, and impact of, some of the determinants of late-life loneliness and depression. Modern welfare states seem able to delay or to give some protection from the risk of poor quality of life in later life.

These findings are publisehed in Population Europe Discussion Paper no. 10. The paper is authored by Thomas Hansen and Britt Slagsvold, both from NOVA/OsloMet.

Read more here.

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Young Girl Being Visited In Hospital By Therapy Dog

Are volunteers happier?

by thomas

A new SHARE-based study explores the effects of voluntary work on life satisfaction in midlife and old age across 12 European countries.

The study is based on harmonized data from SHARE and NorLAG. It shows that life satisfaction is higher among volunteers than non-volunteers across countries with different cultural and Institutional frameworks regarding volunteering.

Worldwide, volunteering provides assistance and relief to people in need. An increasing number of studies suggests that voluntary workers themselves are also experiencing a number of health and well-being benefits through their commitment. However, only a handful of these analyses explore the effects of volunteering in a cross-national setting with varying cultural and institutional contexts. Thus, Hansen et al. take up the question: How does volunteering impact one’s life satisfaction?

Measuring voluntary engagement and life satisfaction

The researchers explored how changes in volunteering impact life satisfaction according to one’s life stage (age, employment status), and across countries with different cultural norms and support for voluntary work. For their analyses, Hansen et al. draw upon data from over 16.000 participants in the first and second wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). Additionally, the data are complemented by information from 1.606 participants in the Norwegian study on Life Course (NorLAG). The final dataset comprised data from 18.559 individuals aged 50 and above from 12 European countries.

Life satisfaction is higher among volunteers

In accordance with previous studies, Hansen et al. find that being, becoming and having been a volunteer are all associated with higher life satisfaction compared to non-volunteering. Furthermore, the analysis shows that regular volunteering is linked to greater life satisfaction only among those aged 65 or older and the longer-term non-employed, e.g. people who are retired. On the country level, Hansen et al. observe that life satisfaction among volunteers is higher in countries where social spending is low and volunteering remains rather unpopular. Still, the data could be driven by individuals who are highly satisfied with their life anyway, instead of increasing their life satisfaction through volunteering.

Volunteering could help expand one’s social circle and improve health

Although the specific causal mechanisms of voluntarism and life satisfaction cannot be exactly determined yet, the study by Hansen et al. indicates that voluntary work could serve as a source for self and relational-esteem. On the basis of previous SHARE-based studies, it could be argued that voluntarism in midlife and old age could help expand the individual social circle and, therewith, improve one’s health and well-being.

Study by Thomas Hansen, Marja Aartsen, Britt Slagsvold and Christian Deindl (2018): Dynamics of Volunteering and Life Satisfaction and Old Age: Findings from 12 European Countries. Social Sciences 7(5).


For more information go to SHARE webpages. 

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Marijke Veenstra at 24nkg

24th Nordic Gerontological Congress in Oslo

Almost 800 participants from 40 countries were gathered in Oslo May 2-4 for the 24th Nordic congress of gerontology. NOVA and Oslo Metropolitan University were among the organizers of the congress.

NOVA researchers Marijke Veenstra (Director of the Norwegian Gerontological Society) and Katharina Herlofson were members of the congress organizing commitee. Veenstra and Thomas Hansen were part of the congress scientific commitee, and Marja Aartsen was part of the Scientific commitee of the Nordic Gerontological Federation.

More information can be found on the congress webpages here.

16 NOVA researchers participated at the congress. We chaired two symposia: “Perspectives on active ageing” (Thomas Hansen) and “Older workers in an extended working life” (Tale Hellevik). In addition we lead 7 oral sessions: “Social inequalities in ageing” (Marja Aartsen), “Family and integenerational relationships” (Svein Olav Daatland), , Loneliness (Thomas Hansen), “Meet the editors” (Marja Aartsen), “Informal care” (Heidi Gautun), “Housing and living environment” (Hans Christian Sandlie) and “Work and Retirement” (Per Erik Solem). NOVA researchers presented altogether 22 papers



Aartsen, M., Hansen, T., & Slagsvold, B. Volunteering and quality of life in middle aged and older adults: Causation or Selection?

Aartsen, M. The social pattern of conflicting and low quality social relations

Aartsen, M. Pressing issues for policy and practice to reduce social exclusion

Brandt, M. & Herlofson, K. Caring for parents and grandchildren in Europe

Daatland, S. O. Interests, ideals or identifications? On the attitudes to welfare state priorities among older and younger generations in Norway

Hansen, T. & Slagsvold, B. Volunteering among middle-aged and older Norwegians: participation, motivation, and barriers

Hansen, T. & Slagsvold, B. Late-Life Loneliness in 11 European Countries: Results from the Generations and Gender Survey

Hansen, T., Aartsen, M., Slagsvold, B. & Deindl, C. (presentør). Dynamics of volunteering and life satisfaction in midlife and old age: Findings from 12 European countries

Hellevik, T. Raising average retirement age – the likelihood of unintended consequences

Gautun, H. & Hellesø, R. Safe care to older patients in the transition between hospitals and local care services

Grøtting, M. & Grasdal, A. Socioeconomic Differences in Health Depreciation over the Life Course among the Norwegian Elderly

Ingebretsen, R. Perspectives from relatives on the care of elderly immigrants with dementia

Løset, G., Aartsen, M., & Slagsvold, B. Changes in alcohol patterns: Towards gender equality in alcohol consumption

Nordbø, H. & Herlofson, K. Helping ageing parents – the role of responsibility norms and relationship quality

Nordbø, H. et al. Life-course, ageing and generations in Norway: the NorLAG study

Rostgaard, T., Kroger, T., Stranz, A., & Vabø, M. Changes in the content of care and the working conditions of care workers – impact of marketisation and reablement?

Solem, P. E.  Possible side effects of raised mandatory retirement age in Norway 

Sughara, G. & Nordvik, V. Knitting alone in the city: Oslo’s intra- and inter-urban variations in linked lives

Szebehely, M., Kroger, T., Rostgaard, T., Stranz, A., & Vabø, M. Are formal care workers a forgotten group in a Nordic ‘passion for equality’?

Vabø, M. & Drange, I. Part-time work– the great paradox of Norwegian elder care

Worm, J., Aartsen, M., Camijs, H., & Huisman, M. Patterns of cognitive decline at higher ages: Are more educated persons better off?




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