Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

A test for the convexity of human well-being over the life cycle: Longitudinal evidence from a 20-year panel

Contents:

Author Info

  • Van Landeghem, Bert

Abstract

A huge cross-section literature, written by economists and others, argues that human well-being is U-shaped through the life cycle. In many cases this U-shape is robust (with a well-known exception the pattern evident in some U.S. data sets if few independent variables are included). However, a lively debate is currently ongoing about its true shape. This paper discusses the identification problem of age, time, and cohort effects. It suggests a simple way to interpret estimates of age variables in a first-difference framework. Building on McKenzie's (2006) methodology, the paper shows that no extra assumptions are needed in order to identify the second derivative of well-being to age, i.e. to estimate the changes in the actual age and well-being relationship. An empirical application, using a large German data set, finds that human well-being is convex in age until after midlife, which is approximately consistent with a U-shaped pattern through life, and not with the concave relationship sometimes found in U.S. studies.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268111002058
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 81 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 571-582

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:81:y:2012:i:2:p:571-582

Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

Related research

Keywords: Life cycle happiness; Subjective well-being; Birth cohorts; Time periods; U-shape;

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
  2. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1994. "Satisfaction and comparison income," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9408, CEPREMAP.
  3. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2009. "The U-shape without controls: A response to Glenn," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 486-488, August.
  4. David J. McKenzie, 2006. "Disentangling Age, Cohort and Time Effects in the Additive Model," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 68(4), pages 473-495, 08.
  5. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  7. Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1993. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 4328, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Marcel Fafchamps & Forhad Shilpi, 2006. "Subjective Welfare, Isolation, and Relative Consumption," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-056, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. Andrew J. Oswald & Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2007. "Review 1: Obesity, Unhappiness, and The Challenge of Affluence: Theory and Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(521), pages 441-454, 06.
  10. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2009. "The paradox of declining female happiness," Working Paper Series 2009-11, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  11. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2007. "Death, Happiness, and the Calculation of Compensatory Damages," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 827, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  12. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Di Tella, R. & MacCulloch, R.J.: Oswald, A.J., 1997. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," Papers 19, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  14. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  15. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
  16. Easterlin, Richard A., 2006. "Life cycle happiness and its sources: Intersections of psychology, economics, and demography," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 463-482, August.
  17. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L, 2004. "Two Views of Inequality Over the Life-Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 4728, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Is Well-Being U-Shaped over the Life Cycle?," IZA Discussion Papers 3075, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. Gwozdz, Wencke & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso, 2009. "Ageing, Health and Life Satisfaction of the Oldest Old: An Analysis for Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 4053, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Alan B. Krueger & David A. Schkade, 2007. "The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures," NBER Working Papers 13027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Orazio P. Attanasio, 1998. "Cohort Analysis of Saving Behavior by U.S. Households," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(3), pages 575-609.
  22. Senik, Claudia, 2006. "Is man doomed to progress?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 0608, CEPREMAP.
  23. Angus S. Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1994. "Saving, Growth, and Aging in Taiwan," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in the Economics of Aging, pages 331-362 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Senik, Claudia, 2004. "When information dominates comparison: Learning from Russian subjective panel data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2099-2123, August.
  25. Glenn, Norval, 2009. "Is the apparent U-shape of well-being over the life course a result of inappropriate use of control variables? A commentary on Blanchflower and Oswald (66: 8, 2008, 1733-1749)," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 481-485, August.
  26. Fischer, Justina AV, 2009. "Happiness and age cycles – return to start…," MPRA Paper 15249, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  27. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2006. "Does Happiness Adapt? A Longitudinal Study of Disability with Implications for Economists and Judges," IZA Discussion Papers 2208, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  28. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2003. "Unhappiness and Crime: Evidence from South Africa," Development and Comp Systems 0310003, EconWPA, revised 17 Mar 2004.
  29. Bronwyn Hall & Jacques Mairesse & Laure Turner, 2005. "Identifying Age, Cohort and Period Effects in Scientific Research Productivity : Discussion and Illustration Using Simulated and Actual Data on French Physicists," Working Papers 2005-22, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  30. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
  31. Peter Sanfey & Utku Teksoz, 2007. "Does transition make you happy?," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 15, pages 707-731, October.
  32. Orazio Attanasio, 1993. "A cohort analysis of saving behaviour by US households," IFS Working Papers W93/04, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  33. Shmanske, Stephen, 1997. "Life-Cycle Happiness in a Discounted Utility Model," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 383-407.
  34. Angus Deaton, 2010. "Income, Aging, Health and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," NBER Chapters, in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 235-263 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  35. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
  36. FLEURBAEY, Marc & SCHOKKAERT, Erik & DECANCQ, Koen, 2009. "What good is happiness?," CORE Discussion Papers 2009017, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  37. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2006. "Some Uses of Happiness Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-46, Winter.
  38. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2007. "Obesity, Unhappiness, and The Challenge of Affluence: Theory and Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2717, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  39. Oswald, Andrew J. & Wu, Stephen, 2010. "Objective Confirmation of Subjective Measures of Human Well-being: Evidence from the USA," IZA Discussion Papers 4695, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  40. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Bert Van Landeghem, 2012. "Panel Conditioning and Self-Reported Satisfaction: Evidence from International Panel Data and Repeated Cross-Sections," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 484, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  2. Schwandt, Hannes, 2013. "Unmet Aspirations as an Explanation for the Age U-shape in Human Wellbeing," IZA Discussion Papers 7604, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Hannes Schwandt, 2013. "Unmet Aspirations as an Explanation for the Age U-Shape in Human Wellbeing," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 580, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  4. Cheng, Terence Chai & Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Oswald, Andrew J., 2014. "Longitudinal Evidence for a Midlife Nadir in Human Well-being: Results from Four Data Sets," IZA Discussion Papers 7942, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Weiss, Alexander & King, James E. & Inoue-Murayama, Miho & Matsuzawa, Tetsuro & Oswald, Andrew J., 2012. "Evidence for a ‘Midlife Crisis’ in Great Apes Consistent with the U-Shape in Human Well-Being," IZA Discussion Papers 7009, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Gregori Baetschmann & Kevin E. Staub & Raphael Studer, 2012. "Does the stork deliver happiness? Parenthood and life satisfaction," ECON - Working Papers 094, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:81:y:2012:i:2:p:571-582. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.