Unemployment Alters the Set-Point for Life Satisfaction
AbstractAccording to set-point theories of subjective well-being, people react to events but then return to baseline levels of happiness and satisfaction over time. We test this idea by examining reaction and adaptation to unemployment in a 15-year longitudinal study. In accordance with set-point theory, individuals reacted strongly to unemployment and then shifted back toward their baseline levels of life satisfaction. However, on average, individuals did not completely return to their former levels of satisfaction, even after they became re-employed. Furthermore, contrary to expectations from adaptation theories, people who had experienced unemployment in the past did not react any less negatively to a new bout of unemployment. These results suggest that although life satisfaction is moderately stable over time, life events can have a strong influence on long-term levels of subjective well-being.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure) in its series DELTA Working Papers with number 2002-17.
Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Psychological Science, January 2004, 15, pp. 8-13.
Other versions of this item:
- Andrew E. Clark & Yannis Georgellis, 2002. "Unemployment Alters the Set-Point for Life Satisfaction," Economics and Finance Discussion Papers 02-16, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.
- Andrew E. Clark & Yannis Georgellis, 2002. "Unemployment Alters the Set-Point for Life Satisfaction," Public Policy Discussion Papers 02-16, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.
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