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Longitudinal Evidence for a Midlife Nadir in Human Well‐being: Results from Four Data Sets

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  • Terence C. Cheng
  • Nattavudh Powdthavee
  • Andrew J. Oswald

Abstract

There is a large amount of cross-sectional evidence for a midlife low in the life cycle of human happiness and well-being (a 'U shape'). Yet no genuinely longitudinal inquiry has uncovered evidence for a U-shaped pattern. Thus some researchers believe the U is a statistical artefact. We re-examine this fundamental cross-disciplinary question. We suggest a new test. Drawing on four data sets, and only within-person changes in well-being, we document powerful support for a U-shape in unadjusted longitudinal data without the need for regression equations. The paper's methodological contribution is to exploit the first-derivative properties of a well-being equation.
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Suggested Citation

  • Terence C. Cheng & Nattavudh Powdthavee & Andrew J. Oswald, 2017. "Longitudinal Evidence for a Midlife Nadir in Human Well‐being: Results from Four Data Sets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(599), pages 126-142, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:econjl:v:127:y:2017:i:599:p:126-142
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ecoj.2017.127.issue-599
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. D. Kuang & B. Nielsen & J. P. Nielsen, 2008. "Forecasting with the age-period-cohort model and the extended chain-ladder model," Biometrika, Biometrika Trust, vol. 95(4), pages 987-991.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • C18 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Methodolical Issues: General

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