The Older, the Happier? A Cross-Sectional Study on the “Paradox of Aging” in China

Jia Li, Daniel W. L. Lai*, Neena L. Chappell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The “paradox of aging” refers to the phenomenon that even though people’s physical health and functions may decline when they enter later adulthood, their happiness does not necessarily. Previous studies have shown that older adults’ better emotional regulation skills may contribute to the maintenance of their happiness. This study aims to examine the relationship between age, health, and happiness, and the moderating role of emotional stability. We adopted a nationally representative sample (n = 10,968) from the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS) and performed weight-adjusted regression models with interaction terms. There is generally an S-shaped age-happiness relationship with significant urban-rural differences. Emotional stability buffers the negative association between health and happiness, and this moderating effect was stronger among older than younger adults, especially in rural China. This study calls for special attention paid to the oldest-old population in rural China and older adults’ emotional regulation skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-43
Number of pages10
JournalResearch on Aging
Issue number1
Early online date25 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

User-Defined Keywords

  • emotional stability
  • happiness
  • rural-urban disparity
  • self-rated health


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