Does childhood predict adult life satisfaction? Evidence from British cohort surveys

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We investigate the extent to which childhood characteristics are predictive of adult life satisfaction using data from two British cohort studies. In total, variables observed up to age 16 predict around 7 of the variation in average adult life satisfaction. Adding contemporaneous adulthood variables increases the predictive power to 15.6 , while adding long lags of life satisfaction increases it to 35.5 . Overall, we estimate that around 30-45 of adult life satisfaction is fixed, suggesting that 55-70 is transitory in nature, and that a wide range of observed childhood circumstances capture about 15 of the fixed component.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F688 - F719
Number of pages32
JournalThe Economic Journal
Issue number580
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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