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Most Older People Are Optimistic about Their Future

Chart of the Month – September 2013

The majority of people aged between 55 and 70 have a positive attitude towards life in old age. All in all, 43% of this age group in Germany are optimistic about the future, whilst only 10% have negative expectations. It is especially the state of health, financial situation and family circumstances which influence the perceived quality of life in old age. Factors such as sex or educational status, by contrast, have virtually no effect.

This is the result of a recent survey carried out by the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB). People's personal environment is especially important in terms of quality of life in old age. For instance, people who live as couples have much more positive attitudes towards growing old than single people. “An existing relationship very obviously reduces fears and anxieties when it comes to getting old, which in turn leads to a more optimistic view of people's own future”, says Linda Lux from the BiB. In contrast, having children of one's own does not exert such a strong influence on assessments of quality of life in old age.

The fact that older people attach greater value to an existing relationship with regard to their own expectations of the future than to parenthood is particularly interesting against the background of demographic change. As a result of demographic ageing and of the change in living arrangements, the number of single, childless elderly people will increase considerably in future. At the same time, the fact that life expectancy continues to increase will lead to a situation in which the elderly develop future expectations over a longer time horizon.

The picture shows a bar chart which illustrates the future optimism among people aged between 55 and 70 Future Optimism among People Aged between 55 and 70

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