Preparation for age-related changes is a central task in midlife and older age and a determinant of functioning and well-being in later life. If and how people prepare is influenced by societal and institutional circumstances and also by beliefs about aging and the future.
We assessed domain-specific preparation for age-related changes in samples from three countries with high population aging but different premises regarding preparation, and analyzed data from N=1,830 individuals aged 35-85 years from urban regions in Germany, the USA, as well as China (Hong Kong).
Preparation was universally low in Hong Kong, but the amount of differences between countries varied depending on life domain. While we found pronounced differences between all three countries for domains related to public provision (such as health care, work, and finances), East-West differences in preparation emerged for domains regarding social relations and end-of-life concerns. The concreteness of time perspective and future self-views mediated country differences in preparation.
Our results speak for the culture-specificity of preparing for old age and we deliver evidence on psychological variables that might explain these differences.