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Happiness over the life cycle: exploring age-specific preferences

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  • Lelkes, Orsolya

Abstract

Existing evidence suggests a U-shaped relationship between age and life satisfaction, when controlling for income and education and other personal characteristics. On the other hand, there is no clear pattern between old age and happiness without the use of controls. Thus, it is not ageing as such, which results declining happiness, but rather the circumstances which are associated with ageing. Which of these circumstances could be averted? Are the preferences of the elderly are similar to others? The paper aims to explore these issues, using the European Social Survey. The results imply that the varying level of life satisfaction during the life cycle may be explained partly by changing preferences (by the decreasing importance of work, the increasing importance of religion, and the declining disutility of being single), and partly by changing circumstances. While changing preferences seem to increase well-being, changing circumstances seem to decrease it. Exceptions are the few positive changes in circumstances, which are likely to contribute to higher well-being, include increasing religiosity and relatively low pensioners’ poverty across the 21 European countries examined here. Old days thus are happy above all due to changing priorities in life.

Suggested Citation

  • Lelkes, Orsolya, 2008. "Happiness over the life cycle: exploring age-specific preferences," MPRA Paper 7302, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:7302
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/7302/1/MPRA_paper_7302.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Lelkes, Orsolya, 2006. "Knowing what is good for you: Empirical analysis of personal preferences and the "objective good"," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 285-307, April.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Why are the old happier?
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2008-03-05 15:48:37

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. van der Meer, Peter H. & Wielers, Rudi, 2016. "Happiness, unemployment and self-esteem," Research Report 16016-HRM&OB, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    2. Piper, Alan T., 2012. "Dynamic Analysis and the Economics of Happiness: Rationale, Results and Rules," MPRA Paper 43248, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Dec 2012.
    3. Lelkes, Orsolya, 2012. "Happier and less isolated: internet use in old age," MPRA Paper 42546, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Nadir Preziosi, 2013. "Life is Getting Worse in ESS Data: Is This Due to Micro or Macro Factors?," Bruges European Economic Research Papers 28, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.
    5. Gabriela Flores & Michael Ingenhaag & Jürgen Maurer, 2013. "Healthy, wealthy, wise, and happy? An exploratory analysis of the interplay between aging and subjective well-being in low and middle income countries," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 13.13, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Life Satisfaction; Age; Preferences;

    JEL classification:

    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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