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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
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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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    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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