This article focuses on researching quality of life in old age. Based on a review of the relevant literature, it argues that research has not reflected sufficiently the multifaceted nature of quality of life and has relied too much on the judgements of professionals rather than older people. It concludes that quality of life research in general has under‐emphasised the importance of material factors in people's lives. With regard to older people, research shows that relatively poor quality of life, as reported by older people themselves, is associated with only a minority and, among this minority, twice the proportion of older women to men. The article ends with an outline of the new Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Growing Older Research Programme on Extending Quality Life, which in three years time promises to provide usable information for policy makers and practitioners about the determinants of quality of life in old age.
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