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Increasing longevity and life satisfaction: is there a catch to living longer?

Janina Nemitz ()
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Janina Nemitz: University of Zurich

Journal of Population Economics, 2022, vol. 35, issue 2, No 6, 557-589

Abstract: Abstract Human longevity is rising rapidly all over the world, but are longer lives more satisfied lives? This study suggests that the answer might be no. Despite a substantial increase in months of satisfying life, people’s overall life satisfaction declined between 1985 and 2011 in West Germany due to substantial losses of life satisfaction in old age. When compared to 1985, in 2011, elderly West Germans were, on average, much less satisfied throughout their last five years of life. Moreover, they spent a larger proportion of their remaining lifetime in states of dissatisfaction, on average. Two important mechanisms that contributed to this satisfaction decline were health and social isolation. Using a broad variety of sensitivity tests, I show that these results are robust to a large set of alternative explanations.

Keywords: Life satisfaction; Happiness; Longevity; Terminal satisfaction; Happy life expectancy; Sullivan’s method (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I10 I31 J11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s00148-021-00836-3

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