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Well-Being Across the Life Course (Ross and Mirowsky).docx

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Bonnie Erickson

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March 18 Well-BeingAcross the Life Course (Ross and Mirowsky) - Middle age is the best time of life in terms of depression; older and younger adults report higher levels of depression - The best years of adult life? o Middle age: o Depression is a feeling of sadness and dejection marked by trouble sleeping, concentrating, and acting o Depression feels unpleasant; its exhaust and debilitates, sapping vitality and well-being o Depression arises from a variety of stresses and strains, from the assaults of microorganisms to the insults of dashed hopes or diminished status. More commonly, depression comes and goes with the challenges and adaptations of life o Measured in terms of depression, middle age is the best time of life  Middle agedAmericans report a lower average frequency of depression than young and older adults do. It looks as if depression starts high in early adulthood, drops to a lifetime low somewhere in the range of 40 to 60 years old and then rises to old age The Five Views of Age - Time elapsed since birth defines a person’s age - 5 distinct aspects of age o Maturity o Decline o Life cycle o Generation o Survival - Each aspect contributes to differences in depression between age groups Age as Maturity - People become more experienced, accomplished, and seasoned as they age  they mature - . Personal growth and development require time - Aging increases a person’s practice with living and the extent of self-composition. - Several developments suggest that maturity comes with age: lower crime rates, safer habits, a more orderly life style, greater satisfaction and more positive self-image - Rates of crime decline steeply in early adulthood and continue to decline through subsequent ages - People in older age groups lead to a more routine and orderly life, take fewer risks, avoid fights and arguments, drink more moderately and carefully, and refrain from recreational use of illegal drugs - Workers in older age groups report greater satisfaction with their jobs beyond that due to their higher rank and pay - People in successively older ag group rate themselves more helpful, supportive, disciplines, able and satisfied with life, as well as less emotional nervous and frustrated; they report greater self- esteem and until age 75, less of a sense that life is empty and meaningless Age as Decline - Accelerating decline with advancing age. Many physical and mental abilities hold roughly stable throughout most of adult years but erode a slowly accelerating rate to produce substantial declines beyond age 70 - the incidence and prevalence of chronic disease increase at an accelerating rate with age; so does the average level of dysfunctions such as trouble seeking, hearing, walking, lifting, climbing stairs, grasping, and manipulating - mental functions also decline, including orientation to time, and space, recall, attention simple calculation, language comprehension and speed of perceptual motor and cognitive processes Age as Life-Cycle Stage - age marks person’s stage in life cycle - human life progresses through common sequences of roles: form school to job retirement, from single to married to widowed - over lifetime adult status and prospects rise and fall - the phased roles interlock with flow and ebb of freedoms, prerogatives, privileges, options opportunities, scope and resources - the achievements and acquisitions of early adulthood build the rank and prosperity f middle age that eventually erodes in the retrenchment and loss of old age - changes in marital, job and economic status index the social life cycle o MostAmericans begin their 18th year single, in school or recently graduated, and with little wealth or personal earnings. The progression to middle age increases the prevalence of marriage, parenthood, and employment. It generally increases the earnings of the employed and the total household income o Beginning around age 60 the progression into old age sharply increases the prevalence of retirement and widowhood, thus decreasing personal earnings and total household income Age as Generation - Age marks a person’s place in the major trends of recent history - At any given stage in their lives the members of younger generations benefit from material, economic, and cultural progress - In the United States, 20th-century trends increased the average level of education, income, female employment, and life expectancy and decreased family size and rural residence - Aggregate increases in education may have generated the favorable trends in income, life expectancy, family size, and female employment Age as Survival - Age indirectly indexes traits associated with differences in survival - Being older increases the likelihood of having the traits associated with survival, particularly after age 70. - Depression and the things that cause it tend to reduce survival - Life expectancy at birth is low for minorities than for others - Unemployment, low education, and poverty all increase age specific rates of mortality - So does being divorced, separated or widowed - Although most traits that increase depression also reduce survival, there is one major exception, being female. Women are more depressed than men but they live an average 6.8 years longer Concentric Spheres of Experience - Depression emerges from matrix of conditions, beliefs, and emotions that shape and define well- being. We may say that conditions, beliefs, and emotions form concentric spheres of experience - Conditions make up most external sphere o Define hard realities of status and circumstance that enable or restrain action - Beliefs form mental bridge between external conditions and emotional response - Emotions arise from those beliefs, o for example: poverty is a condition, hopelessness is a beliefs, and despair is an emotion. Maturity, decline, life cycle, generation, and survival defines the conditions that shape beliefs and emotions Conditions - people of diff ages live under very different conditions. Age is itself one of most powerful ascribed social statuses - society assigns many rights, obligations and opportunities based on age - these include right to drive, drink alcohol, get married or vote, the obligation to serve in military, hold a job, and raise a family, and the opportunity to go to college, run for congress, or head a corporation - law prescribes ages for some rights, obligations and opportunities but tradition prescribes the ages for most. - Society is stratified by age. Different age groups form the graduated layers in a system of responsibility and privilege - Economic Prosperity - Our list of conditions affect emotional wellbeing with economic prosperity - Money cant buy happiness, but money goes long way toward reducing frequency, intensity, and duration of misery, - People in need of money carry more than an equal share of society’s total burden of depression - Young adults need money more than others, American society is designed for achievement; for the most part people earn what they get - Even when society gives an advantage of birth to some over others, that advantage comes chiefly in form of more and better education o Rather than give money itself, Americans try to give their children a superior ability to achieve o Whatever one advantages or disadvantages, making money takes time o Our system of competition and achievement produces a marked relationship between age and economic prosperity - Average personal earns and household income peak in 50-59 years old bracket about same time of life when depression reaches its lowest levels o Studies conducted since 1950’s find that higher earnings and income reduce individual’s probable level of depression o Higher earnings and income reduce depression mostly by reducing economic hardship  it threatens security of children, partners, and others whom one loves and sustains o Economic hardship generally decreases with age  younger adults have by gar highest levels of economic hardship; half say they have difficulty paying bills in the past year o The levels of economic hardship drop sharply between ages of 40 and 60; hardship remains relatively low among those aged 60 and older - The elderly have low rates of hardship despite low earnings and household income for 2 reasons o First, older adults have fewer dependents o Second, accumulated wealth and government programs such as social security, Medicare, and Medicaid meet many needs Employment - The life cycle of employment generates the rise and fall of earnings and household income. Employment improves emotional well-being - Adults employed fulltime enjoy lowest average frequency of depression - Adults who are unemployed, laid off, or unable to work because of disability carry the highest burden of depression - The quality of a job affects well-being too; Many aspects of paid jobs improve with age for those who remain employed - In addition to earnings, these qualities include the ability to decide what to do or how to do it, influence over work group goals, a higher management level, greater prestige and recognition, the freedom to disagree with one’s supervisor, and getting to do work that is less routine or unpleasant and more interesting and enjoyable Marriage - Marriage and family form another major aspect of the adult life cycle that affects well-being - Middle-aged adults are the ones most likely to be married - Married people feel depressed about one-third less often than others - Adults who never have been married also experience about 40 -50% more symptoms than those who are married. People living together with someone as if married are between the married persons and others in their frequency of symptoms - Marriages reduces depression for two reason: social support and household income - Marriages improves wellbeing by improving emotional and economic insecurity - Adults benefit from a partner that provides mutual intimacy and reliance - Of course, some marriages meet those needs better than others - The quality of one’s marriage affects wellbeing; a bad marriage can be worse t
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