Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #795

Associations of Childhood Health and Financial Situation with Quality of Life after Retirement – Regional Variation across Europe

by Claudia Börnhorst, Dörte Heger and Anne Mensen

RUB, RWI, 01/2019, 30 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-923-0 DOI: 10.4419/86788923



Many studies have shown that childhood circumstances can have long term consequences that persist
until old age. To better understand the transmission of early life circumstances, this paper analyses the
effects of health and financial situation during childhood on quality of life after retirement as well as the
mediating role of later life health, educational level, and income in this association. Moreover, this study
is the first to compare these pathways across European regions. The analyses are based on data of 13,092 retirees aged ? 60 and ? 85 years from the fifth wave of the Survey of Health, Aging, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) with full information on childhood and later life measures of health, educational level, financial situation, and quality of life as well as relevant covariates. Five European regions are studied: Central-Western Europe (Austria, Germany), Central-Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Estonia, Slovenia), Northern Europe (Denmark, Sweden), Southern Europe (Italy, Spain), and Western Europe (Belgium, France, The Netherlands). Path analysis is used to identify the direct and indirect effects of childhood measures on quality of life. We find retirees’ quality of life to be associated with childhood finances and health in all five European regions. While both the direct and indirect effects of childhood health are rather moderate and homogeneous across regions, especially the direct effects of childhood finances on quality of life after retirement display a distinct North-South gradient being strongest in Southern Europe. Potential explanations for the regional variations are differences in the countries’ welfare systems.

JEL-Classification: H75, I31, J14

Keywords: Early life circumstances; life course epidemiology; retirement phase; quality of life; path analysis