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What predicts a successful life? A life-course model of well-being

Listed author(s):
  • Layard, Richard
  • Clark, Andrew E.
  • Cornaglia, Francesca
  • Powdthavee, Nattavudh
  • Vernoit, James

Policy-makers who care about well-being need a recursive model of how adult life-satisfaction is predicted by childhood influences, acting both directly and (indirectly) through adult circumstances. We estimate such a model using the British Cohort Study (1970). We show that the most powerful childhood predictor of adult life-satisfaction is the child’s emotional health, followed by the child’s conduct. The least powerful predictor is the child’s intellectual development. This may have implications for educational policy. Among adult circumstances, family income accounts for only 0.5% of the variance of life-satisfaction. Mental and physical health are much more important.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/57267/
File Function: Open access version.
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 57267.

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Date of creation: 04 Nov 2014
Publication status: Published in The Economic Journal, 4, November, 2014, 124(580), pp. F720-F738. ISSN: 1468-0297
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:57267
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  1. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
  2. Christopher Boyce & Alex Wood & Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2013. "Is Personality Fixed? Personality Changes as Much as “Variable” Economic Factors and More Strongly Predicts Changes to Life Satisfaction," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 111(1), pages 287-305, March.
  3. Knapp, Martin & McDaid, David & Parsonage, Michael, 2011. "Mental health promotion and mental illness prevention: the economic case," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 32311, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2008. "Formulating, Identifying and Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
  5. Helliwell, John F., 2003. "How's life? Combining individual and national variables to explain subjective well-being," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 331-360, March.
  6. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Susanne M. Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 883-931, May.
  7. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve & James H. Fowler & Bruno S. Frey, 2010. "Genes, economics, and happiness," IEW - Working Papers 475, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  8. Heckman, James J., 2011. "Integrating Personality Psychology into Economics," IZA Discussion Papers 5950, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Almlund, Mathilde & Duckworth, Angela Lee & Heckman, James & Kautz, Tim, 2011. "Personality Psychology and Economics," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  10. Andrew E. Clark & Richard Layard & Claudia Senik, 2012. "The causes of happiness and misery," Post-Print halshs-00846583, HAL.
  11. Frijters, Paul & Johnston, David W. & Shields, Michael A., 2011. "Destined for (Un)Happiness: Does Childhood Predict Adult Life Satisfaction?," IZA Discussion Papers 5819, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Marcus Richards & Stephani L. Hatch, 2011. "A Life Course Approach to the Development of Mental Skills," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 66(suppl_1), pages 26-35.
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