Social capital, social participation and life satisfaction among Chilean older adults


  • María Soledad Herrera Ponce Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile; Instituto de Sociología
  • Raúl Pedro Elgueta Rosas Universidad de Santiago de Chile; Instituto de Estudios Avanzados
  • María Beatriz Fernández Lorca Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile; Instituto de Sociología



OBJECTIVE To examine factors associated with social participation and their relationship with self-perceived well-being in older adults. METHODS This study was based on data obtained from the National Socioeconomic Characterization (CASEN) Survey conducted in Chile, in 2011, on a probability sample of households. We examined information of 31,428 older adults living in these households. Descriptive and explanatory analyses were performed using linear and multivariate logistic regression models. We assessed the respondents’ participation in different types of associations: egotropic, sociotropic, and religious. RESULTS Social participation increased with advancing age and then declined after the age of 80. The main finding of this study was that family social capital is a major determinant of social participation of older adults. Their involvement was associated with high levels of self-perceived subjective well-being. We identified four settings as sources of social participation: home-based; rural community-based; social policy programs; and religious. Older adults were significantly more likely to participate when other members of the household were also involved in social activities evidencing an intergenerational transmission of social participation. Rural communities, especially territorial associations, were the most favorable setting for participation. There has been a steady increase in the rates of involvement of older adults in social groups in Chile, especially after retirement. Religiosity remains a major determinant of associativism. The proportion of participation was higher among older women than men but these proportions equaled after the age of 80. CONCLUSIONS Self-perceived subjective well-being is not only dependent upon objective factors such as health and income, but is also dependent upon active participation in social life, measured as participation in associations, though its effects are moderate.



How to Cite

Ponce, M. S. H., Rosas, R. P. E., & Lorca, M. B. F. (2014). Social capital, social participation and life satisfaction among Chilean older adults . Revista De Saúde Pública, 48(5), 739-749.



Original Articles