Ageing and Society

Attributes of age-identity

a1 Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, University College London.
a2 Department of Social Medicine and MRC Health Services Research Collaboration, University of Bristol, UK.

Article author query
bowling a   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
see-tai s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
ebrahim s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
gabriel z   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
solanki p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Chronological age can be an unsatisfactory method of discriminating between older people. The lay concept of how old people actually feel may be more useful. The aim of the analyses reported in this paper was to investigate indicators of age-identity (or subjective age) among a national random sample of people aged 65 or more years living at home in Britain. Information was initially collected by home interview and a follow-up postal questionnaire 12–18 months later. The age that respondents felt was a more sensitive indicator than chronological age of many indicators of the respondents’ health, psychological and social characteristics. Multiple regression analysis showed that baseline health and functional status, and reported changes in these at follow-up, explained 20.4 per cent of the variance in self-perceived age. Adding baseline mental health (anxiety/depression), feelings and fears about ageing at follow-up explained a further 0.8 per cent of the variance, making the total variance explained 21.2 per cent. It is concluded that measures of physical health and functional status and their interactions influenced age-identity. Mental health status and psychological perceptions made a small but significant additional contribution.

(Accepted March 10 2005)

Key Words: age-identity; subjective age; self-perceived age; attitudes to ageing; ageing.

c1 Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, University College London, Royal Free Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK. E-mail: