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Past Event

Constructing Age UK’s Index of Wellbeing in Later Life (“WILL”)

About the speaker

Professor Asghar Zaidi

Asghar Zaidi is Professor in International Social Policy at University of Southampton (UK) where his research spans active and healthy ageing and well-being of older people.  Since 2012, he has led the research work in the Active Ageing Index Project of the UNECE/European Commission. During 2013, in collaboration with HelpAge International, he developed the Global AgeWatch Index, the first ever index to measure the well-being of older people on a worldwide scale.  Visiting Professor at London School of Economics and Senior Advisor at European Centre Vienna, Dr. Zaidi was previously Senior Economist at OECD in Paris. He has served as an economic adviser for the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions and as a research officer at the London School of Economics and University of Oxford. An expert advisor to WHO’s Centre for Health Development in Japan, he advised in developing indicators for WHO’s network of Age-friendly Cities. Currently, he is leading a project on dementia in Pakistan (funded by Age International and Alzheimer Disease International) and a project on human rights of older persons (funded by the British Council Islamabad). He is also an academic consultant at Age UK London in their research on constructing the Well-being in Later Life Index. He is on the advisory panel of UNDP’s Human Development Report for 2017.

Professor Asghar Zaidi's photo



This seminar will synthesize the methods used in constructing the Age UK’s Index of Well-being in Later Life “WILL”. Some early findings and their policy implications will also be discussed in this seminar. 

In constructing the WILL Index, we used the first four waves of Understanding Society, the UK’s Household Longitudinal Survey, covering the period between 2009 and 2014. Before advanced statistical modelling, all insights obtained were further ‘sense checked’ in focus group discussions with older men and women and in consultations with the expert group. Next, we applied Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), for identifying significant components of well-being as a ‘non-observed’ latent concept, these were then used to predict individual scores of well-being for all persons included in the dataset.

This method enabled us to determine the well-being score for each individual, making it possible to analyse unequal experiences of well-being among older people in the UK.  Then Principal Component Analysis (PCA) helped us to categorise the significant 40+ variables we had under five different domains: Personal/ Social/ Health/ Resources/ Local. The Age UK’s Index of Well-being in Later Life was calculated in the final step, drawing from methods adopted previously in UNDP’s Human Development Index and the EC/UNECE’s Active Ageing Index. The Index involved normalisation of the individual indicators and aggregating them to develop the domain-specific indices for each of the five domains, as well as the overall Index bringing all indicators and domains together in a single metric.

Key findings are that the average well-being score for people aged 60+ in the UK is 53.2%, just over half of the highest score attained. The wellbeing gap is largest in the health domain and smallest in the ‘personal’ domain. People who are in the bottom fifth of the well-being score are more than twice as likely to be living alone; be less likely to own their property outright; and much less likely to take part in cultural, social or civic events. They are between three and four times as likely to have a longstanding illness and fourteen times as likely to have three or more diagnosed health conditions. They are more likely not to have any caring responsibilities, but among those who do, they are more likely to be intensive carers.

This event is part of a seminar series:

Trinity Term 2017 Seminar Series: ‘Ageing, Wellbeing and Health’

Trinity Term 2017 Seminar Series ‘Ageing, Wellbeing and Health’ Thursdays at 14:00 – 15:30 Seminar Room: 66 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PR Convener: Dr Sara Zella This seminar series will be a fascinating journey between theories and concepts of ageing, health and well-being. The talks will underline the mechanisms behind a happy, healthy and long life, ...

Event Details

01 June 2017 14:00 - 15:30


Oxford Institute of Population Ageing

66 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PR