Materialism and life satisfaction among older people in Hong Kong : a case study and comparison with younger people

  • Yau Tsang CHAN

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


The rapidly ageing global population reminds us to pay attention to the psychology of ageing. As research on materialism among older people is rare, this study aimed to explore the relationships between materialism and life satisfaction among older people in Hong Kong, a rapidly ageing Chinese society. It also suggested a novel concept – intergenerational material expectations (IME) – to understand older people’s material expectations regarding their children. The data were compared with a younger group to find out if age differences existed. The study was a survey design among two age groups: older people aged 65+ and younger people aged 15-34. Questionnaires were collected from 170 older people aged 65+ and 186 youths aged 15-34. The Material Value Scale, the Satisfaction with Life Scale and a newly constructed scale measuring intergenerational material expectations (IME) were used. Multiple regression, ANCOVA and t-test were used for data analysis. After controlling for gender, age, education level and socio-economic status: 1) materialism and IME were positively related; 2) both materialism and IME were negatively related to life satisfaction (correlations between IME and life satisfaction disappear after controlling for self materialism); 3) older people scored higher on IME than on materialism; and 4) materialism was significantly lower among the older people than the younger. Although older respondents scored lower on materialism than younger respondents, it was still negatively correlated with life satisfaction. The higher IME score may imply that older people would transmit their material aspirations to their offspring as an expression of generative concerns. Future research might investigate if IME exists in other cultures and how older people’s expectations of their children would affect their well-being.
Date of Award2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Sociology and Social Policy
SupervisorDavid Rosser PHILLIPS (Supervisor) & Oi Ling SIU (Supervisor)

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