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Born to be mild? Cohort effects don't explain why well-being is U-shaped in age

  • Andrew E. Clark

    (IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - IZA, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS : UMR8545 - École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC) - École normale supérieure [ENS] - Paris)

The statistical analysis of cross-section data very often reveals a U-shaped relationship between subjective well-being and age. This paper uses fourteen waves of British panel data to distinguish between a pure life-cycle or aging effect, and a fixed cohort effect that depends on year of birth. Panel analysis controlling for fixed effects continues to produce a U-shaped relationship between well-being and age, although this U-shape is flatter for life satisfaction than for the GHQ measure of mental well-being. The pattern of the estimated cohort effects differs between the two well-being measures and, to an extent, by demographic group. In particular, those born earlier report more positive GHQ scores, controlling for their current age; this phenomenon is especially found for women.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series PSE Working Papers with number halshs-00590307.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00590307
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: http://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00590307
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  1. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-2001, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
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