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Do people really adapt to marriage?

Listed author(s):
  • Richard E. Lucas

    (DIW - Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung - German Institute for Economic Research, Michigan State University [East Lansing])

  • Andrew E. Clark

    (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC))

Although cross-sectional studies have shown a reliable association between marital status and subjective well-being, a recent longitudinal study [Lucas et al. 2003, Journal of Personality & Social Psychology 84(3), pp.␣527-539] found no support for the idea that happiness increases after marriage. Instead, participants who got married reported short-term increases followed by complete adaptation back to baseline levels of well-being. However, researchers have criticized this study on two grounds. First, these results contradict cohort-based analyses from a nationally representative sample. Second, these analyses do not control for pre-marriage cohabitation, which could potentially inflate baseline levels of well-being. The original data (plus four additional waves) are reanalyzed to address these concerns. Results confirm that individuals do not get a lasting boost in life satisfaction following marriage.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00754117.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
Publication status: Published in Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer Verlag, 2006, 7 (4), pp.405-426. <10.1007/s10902-006-9001-x>
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00754117
DOI: 10.1007/s10902-006-9001-x
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal-pjse.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00754117
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/

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  1. 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, vol. 35(2), pages 326-347, April.
  2. Richard E. Lucas & Andrew Clark & Yannis Georgellis & Ed Diener, 2002. "Re-Examining Adaptation and the Setpoint Model of Happiness: Reactions to Changes in Marital Status," DELTA Working Papers 2002-08, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
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