Longitudinal evidence for a midlife nadir in human well-being: results from four data sets

Terence C Cheng, Nattavudh Powdthavee, Andrew J. Oswald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)

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 longitudinal data (without the need for formal regression equations). The article's methodological contribution is to use the first-derivative properties of a well-being equation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-142
Number of pages17
JournalThe Economic Journal
Volume127
Issue number599
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

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