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The Role of Domain Satisfaction in Explaining the Paradoxical Association Between Life Satisfaction and Age

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  • Kimberly McAdams

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  • Richard Lucas
  • M. Donnellan

Abstract

Although aging is associated with declines in many life domains, overall life satisfaction does not appear to decline sharply with age. One explanation for this paradoxical finding is that several life domains improve with age such that increases in certain domains balance the decreases in others. Because different issues are problematic at different life stages, it is likely that specific domains display different life trajectories compared to overall life satisfaction. The observed pattern for overall life satisfaction is likely due to a bottom-up approach. Life and domain satisfaction data from 8 years of the British Household Panel Study were analyzed to evaluate this hypothesis. Results indicated that satisfaction with some life domains increased after middle age (e.g. social life), whereas satisfaction with other life domains decreased (e.g. health). Additionally, results illustrated that although domain satisfaction scores demonstrate distinct trajectories, the aggregate of these distinct domains resembled the overall life satisfaction trajectory. These findings have implications for top-down and bottom-up models of life satisfaction. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Kimberly McAdams & Richard Lucas & M. Donnellan, 2012. "The Role of Domain Satisfaction in Explaining the Paradoxical Association Between Life Satisfaction and Age," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 109(2), pages 295-303, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:109:y:2012:i:2:p:295-303
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-011-9903-9
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Daniel K. Mroczek & Avron Spiro, 2003. "Modeling Intraindividual Change in Personality Traits: Findings From the Normative Aging Study," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 58(3), pages 153-165.
    2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Is well-being U-shaped over the life cycle?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(8), pages 1733-1749, April.
    3. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 53-72, Spring.
    4. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_income_health_and_wellbeing_around_the_world_evidence_%20from_gall is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Brendan Baird & Richard Lucas & M. Donnellan, 2010. "Life Satisfaction Across the Lifespan: Findings from Two Nationally Representative Panel Studies," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 99(2), pages 183-203, November.
    6. Chang-ming Hsieh, 2003. "Counting Importance: The Case of Life Satisfaction and Relative Domain Importance," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 61(2), pages 227-240, February.
    7. Susanne Scheibe & Laura L. Carstensen, 2010. "Emotional Aging: Recent Findings and Future Trends," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 65(2), pages 135-144.
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