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Happiness over the life cycle: exploring age-specific preferences

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  • Lelkes, Orsolya

Abstract

Existing evidence suggests a U-shaped relationship between age and life satisfaction, when controlling for income and education and other personal characteristics. On the other hand, there is no clear pattern between old age and happiness without the use of controls. Thus, it is not ageing as such, which results declining happiness, but rather the circumstances which are associated with ageing. Which of these circumstances could be averted? Are the preferences of the elderly are similar to others? The paper aims to explore these issues, using the European Social Survey. The results imply that the varying level of life satisfaction during the life cycle may be explained partly by changing preferences (by the decreasing importance of work, the increasing importance of religion, and the declining disutility of being single), and partly by changing circumstances. While changing preferences seem to increase well-being, changing circumstances seem to decrease it. Exceptions are the few positive changes in circumstances, which are likely to contribute to higher well-being, include increasing religiosity and relatively low pensioners’ poverty across the 21 European countries examined here. Old days thus are happy above all due to changing priorities in life.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 7302.

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Date of creation: 20 Feb 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:7302

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Keywords: Life Satisfaction; Age; Preferences;

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References

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  1. Oswald, A.J., 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Papers, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics 18, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  2. Orsolya Lelkes, 2005. "Knowing what is good for you. Empirical analysis of personal preferences and the 'objective good'," Others, EconWPA 0502002, EconWPA.
  3. Andrew E. Clark, 2003. "Unemployment as a Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 289-322, April.
  4. Andrew Clark & Fabrice Etilé & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Claudia Senik & Karine Van der Straeten, 2005. "Heterogeneity in Reported Well-Being: Evidence from Twelve European Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages C118-C132, 03.
  5. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Is Well-being U-Shaped over the Life Cycle?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS), University of Warwick, Department of Economics 826, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  6. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
  7. Paul Frijters & John Haisken-DeNew & Michael Shields, 2005. "Socio-Economic Status, Health Shocks, Life Satisfaction and Mortality: Evidence from an Increasing Mixed Proportional Hazard Model," CEPR Discussion Papers, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University 496, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  8. Stutzer, Alois & Frey, Bruno S., 2006. "Does marriage make people happy, or do happy people get married?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 326-347, April.
  9. Lelkes, Orsolya, 2006. "Tasting freedom: Happiness, religion and economic transition," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 173-194, February.
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  14. Peiro, Amado, 2006. "Happiness, satisfaction and socio-economic conditions: Some international evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 348-365, April.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Why are the old happier?
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2008-03-05 09:48:37
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Cited by:
  1. Dumitru Sandu, 2013. "Mapping out social worlds by states of mind in Europe," Discussion Papers, Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI) 10, Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI).
  2. Nadir Preziosi, 2013. "Life is Getting Worse in ESS Data: Is This Due to Micro or Macro Factors?," Bruges European Economic Research Papers, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe 28, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.
  3. Piper, Alan T., 2012. "Dynamic Analysis and the Economics of Happiness: Rationale, Results and Rules," MPRA Paper 43248, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Dec 2012.
  4. Lelkes, Orsolya, 2012. "Happier and less isolated: internet use in old age," MPRA Paper 42546, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Tamila Arnania-Kepuladze, 2011. "Gender Features of Time Allocation, Gender Stereotypes and Labour Supply," Equilibrium, Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika, vol. 6, pages 85-101.
  6. Gabriela Flores & Michael Ingenhaag & Jürgen Maurer, 2013. "Healthy, wealthy, wise, and happy? An exploratory analysis of the interplay between aging and subjective well-being in low and middle income countries," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP), Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP 13.13, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.

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