Why are some people resilient when faced with adversities in later life and others not?

This is the central research question in this mixed methods project on psychosocial resilience. We follow individuals 60+, after age-typical losses (loss of family member or physical functioning), across subgroups, birth cohorts and in different societal contexts (Sweden, Ireland, Poland, and Spain, in comparison with other European countries), and examine what may explain whether they return to their initial level of mental well-being or see a continuous decline. We argue that it is essential in ageing societies to understand the multi-factorial mechanisms behind the ability to bounce back.

Our approach enables a comprehensive understanding of psychosocial resilience. In the quantitative analyses, we use trajectory modelling to explore the heterogeneity and dynamics of resilience after age-related losses and link these trajectories to factors at micro-, meso- and macro-levels, in order to identify the mechanisms of protective factors.

We use longitudinal survey data with multiple follow-ups: the Swedish Level of Living Survey (LNU) and SWEOLD studies, and for the comparative analysis, the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) and the Irish TILDA study. The high response rates in SWEOLD allow for follow-ups of subgroups into very high ages while SHARE/TILDA data, with biannual follow-ups, allow analyses of cross-country variation and the influence of macro-level factors, such as participation and enabling environments, also using indicators from the Active Ageing Index (AAI).

In the qualitative approach, we investigate individual narratives of resilience in 4 countries which represent different welfare models and placements in the AAI. With analysis of policy context and qualitative interviews in each country, we explore differences and similarities in meanings of resilience, and aspects articulated as being central.

Our multi-national research team has excellent competences in both qualitative and quantitative analyses and we collaborate with senior and civil society organizations in the four countries who are part of implementation and dissemination of findings. The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare and will run from 2022 until 2025.

Researchers participating in the project

Project leader is Professor Tine Rostgaard (Roskilde University and Stockholm University), tiro@ruc.dk. Participants in the project are Johan Fritzell (Karolinska Institut, Sweden), Virpi Timonen (Trinity College, Ireland), Christine Mc Garrigle (Trinity College, Ireland), Neda Agahi (Karolinska Institut, Sweden), Elin Peterson (Stockholm Universitet, Sweden), Jolanta Perek-Bialas (Krakow University, Poland), Catherine Conlon (Trinity College, Ireland), Erika Augustsson (Karolinska Institut, Sweden).