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Do people really adapt to marriage?

  • Richard E. Lucas

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

  • Andrew E. Clark

    (IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - IZA, 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))

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    Although cross-sectional studies have shown a reliable association between marital status and subjective well-being, a recent longitudinal study (Lucas, Clark, Georgellis, & Diener, 2003) 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 Working Papers with number halshs-00590574.

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    Date of creation: Nov 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-00590574
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    1. Linda Waite, 1995. "Does marriage matter?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 32(4), pages 483-507, November.
    2. Ronald Rindfuss, 1991. "The Young Adult Years: Diversity, Structural Change, and Fertility," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 28(4), pages 493-512, November.
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