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The Lasting Legacy of Traumatic Events on Life Satisfaction

Alessandro Bucciol () and Luca Zarri

No 13/2017, Working Papers from University of Verona, Department of Economics

Abstract: In this paper, we employ large-scale survey data from the four 2006-2012 waves of the US Health and Retirement Study to show that traumatic events experienced throughout the life span leave a legacy on life satisfaction. Having had a life-threatening illness or accident, having a close relative hit by a life-threatening illness or accident and, especially, having been victim of a serious physical attack or assault are life events out of individuals’ control that turn out to be negatively associated with both general and domain-specific life satisfaction, even after controlling for personality traits. As to extremely adverse events experienced during childhood or adolescence, life satisfaction is significantly lowered by being physically abused by a parent. Overall, we provide evidence that the effects of some traumas are persistent over time and that men and women do not significantly differ in their reactions to traumas. Surprisingly, the effects of child death on general life satisfaction are negligible also in the short term.

Keywords: General Life Satisfaction; Domain-specific Life Satisfaction; Traumatic Events (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D60 D91 I31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017-07
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