Purpose: This study tested the effect of multiple levels of engagement in the productive roles of paid work, volunteering, and caregiving on midlife and older adults’ psychological well-being. Methods: Using cross-sectional data from a sample of 330 adults aged 50 and older (largely white, women, and educated), a treatment effects model was employed to test the impact of four levels of engagement (not involved and low, medium, and high engagement) on psychological well-being. Results: Those involved in work or volunteer activities who were high in engagement reported greater psychological well-being than those who were not involved, whereas those who were low or medium in engagement reported lower well-being than those not involved. A different pattern emerged for caregiving; midlevels of engagement were associated with higher well-being compared with the noninvolved, whereas low and high levels of engagement were associated with lower well-being. Implications: Findings suggest that one’s experience of an activity plays an important role in the extent to which involvement is associated with positive outcomes. Recommendations for enhancing role quality to promote psychological well-being in middle and later life are discussed.
SOURCE: Matz-Costa, C., Besen, E., Boone James, J., Pitt-Catsouphes, M. “Differential Impact of Multiple Levels of Productive Activity Engagement on Psychological Well-Being in Middle and Later Life.” The Gerontologist (2014) 54(2): 277-289.
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