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Born To Be Mild? Cohort Effects Don’t (Fully) Explain Why Well-Being Is U-Shaped in Age

Andrew Clark ()

No 3170, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Abstract: 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 two potential explanations of this shape: a pure life-cycle or aging effect, and a fixed cohort effect depending 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 also 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 prevalent for women.

Keywords: subjective well-being; cohorts; fixed effects; panel data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C23 I3 J11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-age and nep-hap
Date: 2007-11
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