Social Participation and Life Satisfaction

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Greater subjective well-being has long been found to be correlated with aged adults, and it increases when one possesses greater social capital, specifically with higher social participation rates as well as wider social networks. Theoretically, frequent social participation results in the likelihood of an increased number of connections, which promotes greater availability of social support and social cohesion on one’s positive well-being. Yet, prolonged evidence claimed there are differences between young-old and old-old, particularly in terms of their health and socioeconomic status. This study explores the serial mediating effects of social network size and social support in the association between social participation and life satisfaction. It is hypothesized that there would be different mechanisms, specifically the indirect effects of social network size and social support, on the effects of social participation to life satisfaction among young-old and old-old. Young-old (n = 412) and old-old (n = 307) completed a set of questionnaires that included measures of frequency of social activities, structural and functional social support, Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS), and sociodemographic variables. Bootstrapped mediation analyses with 10,000 repetitions were conducted. After controlling the sociodemographic variables, bootstrapped serial mediation analyses showed that the association of social participation and life satisfaction is serially partially mediated by structural and functional social support among the young-old. However, full mediation by these two variables was found among the old-old. Findings suggested that functional social support provided essential contribution to the association between social participation and life satisfaction. It implied that the perceived quality of social relationships was of paramount importance to aged adults, especially to the old-old.