A statistical analysis of some aspects of well-being of South Korean elderly population
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This thesis considers the determinants of well-being among the elderly population of South Korea. Two essays examine whether and to what extent institutional change or individual choice affects the subjective and objective aspect of well-being. In the first essay, we examine how an institutional change in South Korea, through the increase in basic pension benefits, influences life satisfaction. The subjective well-being outcome has been the subject of intense exploration in epidemiology and gerontology literature due to its health implications. The previous studies have shown that poor life satisfaction is a major determinant of mental illness and leads to progressive decline in cognitive and physical functioning. Despite the importance of subjective well-being in the elderly population, the impact of non-individual socioeconomic factors is not well understood. This essay contributes to the literature by examining whether the expansion of pension benefits in South Korea increased happiness among beneficiaries. The second essay concerns the correlations between smoking and cognitive functioning. Among many domains of physical health, cognitive functioning has drawn renewed interest as a precursor of dementia and Alzheimer's disease at later life. The recent studies have shown that smoking may have a protective effect on cognitive functioning through the delivery of nicotine to the brain. In this essay, we link the smoking behaviors of husbands to the wife's cognitive functioning to evaluate the cognitive effects of secondhand smoke exposure.