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Longitudinal Evidence for a Midlife Nadir in Human Wellbeing: Results from Four Data Sets

Author

Listed:
  • Cheng, Terence C

    (University of Melbourne)

  • Powdthavee, Nattavudh

    (London School of Economics and Political Science)

  • Oswald, Andrew J

    (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)

Abstract

There is a large amount of cross-sectional evidence for a midlife low in the life cycle of human happiness and well-being (a ‘U shape’). Yet no genuinely longitudinal inquiry has uncovered evidence for a U-shaped pattern. Thus some researchers believe the U is a statistical artefact. We re-examine this fundamental cross-disciplinary question. We suggest a new test. Drawing on four data sets, and only within-person changes in well-being, we document powerful support for a U-shape in unadjusted longitudinal data without the need for regression equations. The paper’s methodological contribution is to exploit the first-derivative properties of a well-being equation. JEL classification: I31 ; D01 ; C18

Suggested Citation

  • Cheng, Terence C & Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Oswald, Andrew J, 2014. "Longitudinal Evidence for a Midlife Nadir in Human Wellbeing: Results from Four Data Sets," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1037, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:1037
    as

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    File URL: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/workingpapers/2014/twerp_1037_oswald.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. D. Kuang & B. Nielsen & J. P. Nielsen, 2008. "Forecasting with the age-period-cohort model and the extended chain-ladder model," Biometrika, Biometrika Trust, vol. 95(4), pages 987-991.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Happiness, age & class
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2014-03-01 20:27:31

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2017. "Unhappiness and Pain in Modern America: A Review Essay, and Further Evidence, on Carol Graham's Happiness for All?," IZA Discussion Papers 11184, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Julia M. Rohrer & Martin Bruemmer & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2017. "Worries across Time and Age in Germany: Bringing Together Open- and Close-Ended Questions," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1671, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    3. repec:eee:jeborg:v:146:y:2018:i:c:p:206-221 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:socmed:v:198:y:2018:i:c:p:103-111 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Schwandt, Hannes, 2016. "Unmet aspirations as an explanation for the age U-shape in wellbeing," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 75-87.
    6. Ning Li, 2016. "Multidimensionality of Longitudinal Data: Unlocking the Age-Happiness Puzzle," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 305-320, August.
    7. Mujcic, Redzo & Oswald, Andrew J., 2018. "Is envy harmful to a society's psychological health and wellbeing? A longitudinal study of 18,000 adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 198(C), pages 103-111.
    8. Carol Graham & Julia Ruiz Pozuelo, 2017. "Happiness, stress, and age: how the U curve varies across people and places," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(1), pages 225-264, January.
    9. Piper, Alan T., 2015. "Sliding down the U-shape? A dynamic panel investigation of the age-well-being relationship, focusing on young adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 54-61.
    10. Alan T. Piper, 2016. "Sleep duration and life satisfaction," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 63(4), pages 305-325, December.
    11. Piper, Alan T., 2014. "Sliding down the U-shape? An investigation of the age-well-being relationship, with a focus on young adults," MPRA Paper 55819, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2017. "Do Humans Suffer a Psychological Low in Midlife? Two Approaches (With and Without Controls) in Seven Data Sets," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 337, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    13. Moschion, Julie & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2018. "The welfare implications of addictive substances: A longitudinal study of life satisfaction of drug users," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 206-221.
    14. Mujcic, Redzo & Oswald, Andrew J., 2018. "Is Envy Harmful to a Society's Psychological Health and Wellbeing? A Longitudinal Study of 18,000 Adults," IZA Discussion Papers 11922, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Connelly, Rachel & Iannotti, Michael & Maurer-Fazio, Margaret & Zhang, Dandan, 2014. "Coresidency, Ethnicity, and Happiness of China's Rural Elders," IZA Discussion Papers 8194, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. repec:spr:qualqt:v:52:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s11135-017-0570-z is not listed on IDEAS
    17. AMENDOLA, Adalgiso & DELL'ANNO, Roberto & PARISI, Lavinia, 2015. "Happiness, Inequality and Relative Concerns in European Countries," CELPE Discussion Papers 136, CELPE - Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy, University of Salerno, Italy.
    18. repec:spr:jhappi:v:19:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9830-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Ning Li, 2014. "Multidimensionality of Longitudinal Data: Unlocking the Age-Happiness Puzzle," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2014n04, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Life-cycle happiness ; subjective well-being ; longitudinal study ; U shape;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • C18 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Methodolical Issues: General

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