Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Unmet Aspirations as an Explanation for the Age U-Shape in Human Wellbeing

Contents:

Author Info

  • Hannes Schwandt
Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    A large literature in behavioral and social sciences has found that human wellbeing follows a U-shape over age. Some theories have assumed that the U-shape is caused by unmet expectations that are felt painfully in midlife but beneficially abandoned and experienced with less regret during old age. In a unique panel of 132,609 life satisfaction expectations matched to subsequent realizations, I find people to err systematically in predicting their life satisfaction over the life cycle. They expect -- incorrectly -- increases in young adulthood and decreases during old age. These errors are large, ranging from 9.8% at age 21 to -4.5% at age 68, they are stable over time and observed across socio-economic groups. These findings support theories that unmet expectations drive the age U-shape in wellbeing.

    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.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.426599.de/diw_sp0580.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 580.

    as in new window
    Length: 32 p.
    Date of creation: 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp580

    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: Mohrenstraße 58, D-10117 Berlin
    Phone: xx49-30-89789-671
    Fax: xx49-30-89789-109
    Email:
    Web page: http://www.diw.de/en/soep
    More information through EDIRC

    Related research

    Keywords: Life satisfaction; expectations; aging;

    Find related papers by JEL classification:

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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. 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).
    2. Fuchs-Schundeln, Nicola & Alesina, Alberto, 2007. "Good-Bye Lenin (Or Not?): The Effect of Communism on People's Preferences," Scholarly Articles 4553032, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    3. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
    4. Puri, Manju & Robinson, David T., 2007. "Optimism and economic choice," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 71-99, October.
    5. Guy Mayraz, 2011. "Wishful Thinking," CEP Discussion Papers, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE dp1092, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers, Tinbergen Institute 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    7. 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).
    8. Daniel Kahneman & Richard H. Thaler, 2006. "Anomalies: Utility Maximization and Experienced Utility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 221-234, Winter.
    9. Frijters, Paul & Beatton, Tony, 2012. "The mystery of the U-shaped relationship between happiness and age," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 525-542.
    10. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    11. 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).
    12. Van Landeghem, Bert, 2012. "A test for the convexity of human well-being over the life cycle: Longitudinal evidence from a 20-year panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 571-582.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    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:diw:diwsop:diw_sp580. 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: (Bibliothek).

    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.