Social Indicators Research

, Volume 121, Issue 2, pp 543–567 | Cite as

Are Happy Youth Also Satisfied Adults? An Analysis of the Impact of Childhood Factors on Adult Life Satisfaction

Article

Abstract

This paper aims to consider whether there is a link between youth happiness levels and adult life satisfaction. Our results are unequivocal that such a link exists both because demographic and socio-economic conditions are persistent over a lifetime and also because there is a persistence in personality effects. To test this link, we estimate a model of happiness for a sample of young people. This model provides us with a range of variables measuring socio-economic effects and personality effects amongst young people. These variables are then included in the adult life satisfaction model. The model is estimated using data from the British Household Panel Survey for 1994–2008. In addition to childhood happiness levels influencing adult life satisfaction significantly, we also find that the youthful personality trait for happiness has a larger effect on adult life satisfaction than demographic and socio-economic conditions.

Keywords

Life satisfaction Personality Youth happiness 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to participants at the European Society for Population Economics conference in Berne 2012, the International Association for Feminist Economics Conference in Barcelona 2012 and participants of the internal seminars at the University of Reading for comments. We would also like to thank Wiji Arulampalam, Marina Della Giusta, Adelina Gschwandtner, Alois Stutzer and two anonymous referees for providing insightful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

References

  1. Almquist, A. (2011). Social isolation in the classroom and adult health: A longitudinal study of a 1953 cohort. Advances in Life Course Research, 16(1), 1–12, ISSN 1040-2608.Google Scholar
  2. Almquist, Y. B., Modin, B., & Augustine, L. (2013). Peer acceptance in the school class and subjective health complaints. A multilevel approach. Journal of School Health, 83(10), 690–696.Google Scholar
  3. Angeles, L. (2010). Adaptation and anticipation effects to life events in the United Kingdom. Department of Economics, and University of Glasgow.Google Scholar
  4. Blanchflower, D., & Oswald, A. (2008). Is well-being U-shaped over the life cycle? Social Science and Medicine, 66(8), 1733–1749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Borghans, L., Duckworth, A. L., Heckman, J., & Weel, B. (2008). The economics and psychology of personality traits. Journal of Human Resources, 43, 817–860.Google Scholar
  6. Boyce, C. J. (2010). Understanding fixed effects in human well-being. Journal of Economic Psychology, 31, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boyce, C. (2013). Is personality fixed? Personality changes as much as “variable” economic factors and more strongly predicts changes to life satisfaction. Social Indicators Research, 111(1), 287–305.Google Scholar
  8. Burton, P., and Phipps, S. (2010). The well-being of immigrant children and their parents in Canada. In Paper presented at the 31st general conference of the international association for research in income and wealth.Google Scholar
  9. Carneiro, P., Crawford, C., & Goodman, A. (2007). The impact of early cognitive and non-cognitive skills on later outcomes. London School of Economics: Centre for the Economics of Education.Google Scholar
  10. Case, A., Fertig, A., & Paxson, C. (2005). The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance. Journal of Health Economics, 24, 365–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clark, A. (2003). Unemployment as a social norm: Psychological evidence from panel data. Journal of Labor Economics, 21, 323–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clark, A. (2006). A note on unhappiness and unemployment duration. Applied Economics Quarterly, 52(4), 291–308.Google Scholar
  13. Clark, A., Diener, E., Georgellis, Y., & Lucas, R. (2003). Re-examining adaptation and the setpoint model of happiness: Reaction to changes in marital status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 527–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clark, A., Diener, E., Georgellis, Y., & Lucas, R. (2008a). Lags and leads in life satisfaction: A test of the baseline hypothesis. Economic Journal, 118(526), 222–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Clark, A. E., Frijters, P., & Shields, M. A. (2008b). Relative income, happiness and utility: An explanation for the easterlin paradox and other puzzles. Journal of Economic Literature, 46(1), 95–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Clark, A., & Georgellis, Y. (2010). Back to baseline in Britain: Adaptation in the BHPS. Paris School of Economics Working Paper No 2010-02.Google Scholar
  17. Cobb-Clark, D., & Schurer, S. (2011). The stability of big-five personality traits. Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 21/11.Google Scholar
  18. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1994). Set like plaster: Evidence for the stability of adult personality. In T. F. Heatherton & J. Weinberger (Eds.), Can personality change? (pp. 21–40). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (2006). Age changes in personality and their origins: Comment on Roberts, Walton and Viechtbauer (2006). Psychological Bulletin, 132, 26–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Currie, J., Stabile, M., Manivong, P., & Roos, L. L. (2010). Child health and young adult outcomes. Journal of Human Resources, 45, 517–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Della Giusta, M., Jewell, S. L., & Kambhampati, U. S. (2011). Gender and life satisfaction in the UK. Feminist Economics, 17(3), 1–34.Google Scholar
  22. Diener, E., Lucas, R. E., & Scollon, C. (2006). Beyond the hedonic treadmill: Revising the adaptation theory of well-being. Psychological Science, 61, 305–324.Google Scholar
  23. Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125(2), 276–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Easterlin, R. A. (2001). Income and Happiness: Towards a unified theory. The economic journal, 111, 465–484.Google Scholar
  25. Ferguson, K. M. (2006). Social capital and children’s well-being: A critical synthesis of the international social capital literature. International Journal of Social Welfare, 15, 2–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A., & Frijters, P. (2004). How important is methodology for the estimates of the determinants of happiness? Economic Journal, 114(497), 641–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Field, F. (2010). The foundation years: Preventing poor children becoming poor adults: The report on the independent review on poverty and life chances. London: HM Government.Google Scholar
  28. Frey, B. S., & Stutzer, A. (2002). Happiness and Economics. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 220 pp.Google Scholar
  29. Frey, B. S., & Stutzer, A. (2006). Does marriage make people happy or do happy people get married? Journal of Socioeconomics, 35(2), 326–347.Google Scholar
  30. Frijters, P., Johnston, D., & Shields, M. A. (2011). Destined for (un)happiness: Does childhood predict adult life satisfaction? IZA Discussion paper no 5819.Google Scholar
  31. Fujita, F., & Diener, E. (2005). Life satisfaction set point: Stability and change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 158–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Goodman, A., Joyce, R., & Smith, J. P. (2011). The long shadow cast by childhood physical and mental problems on adult life. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 6032–6037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Graef, R. (1978). An analysis of the person by situation interaction through repeated Measures. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  34. Hausman, J., & Taylor, W. (1981). Panel data and unobservable individual effects. Econometrica, 49(6), 1377–1398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Heady, B., Wearing, A. (1989). Personality, life events, and subjective well-being: Towards a dynamic equilibrium model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 731–739.Google Scholar
  36. John, O., & Srivastava, S. (1999). The big-five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In L. A. Pervin & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  37. Kozman, A., Stone, S., & Stone, M. J. (1997). Stability in components and predictors of subjective well-being. In Paper delivered at first conference of the international quality of life studies: 1997, Charlotte, North Carolina.Google Scholar
  38. Land, K. C., Lamb, V. L., & Mustillo, S. K. (2001). Child and youth well-being in the United States 1975–1998: Some findings from a New Index. Social Indicators Research, 56, 241–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lieberman, L. R. (1970). Life satisfaction in the young and the old. Psychological Reports, 27(1), 75–79.Google Scholar
  40. Lucas, R., Clark, A., Diener, E., & Georgellis, Y. (2003). Re-examining adaptation and the setpoint model of happiness: Reaction to changes in marital status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 527–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Magnus, K., & Diener, E. (1991) A longitudinal analysis of personality, life events and subjective well-being. Paper presented at the 63rd annual meeting of the midwestern psychological association, Chicago.Google Scholar
  42. Mensah, F. K., Hobcraft, J. (2008). Childhood deprivation, health and development: associations with adult health in the 1958 and 1970 British prospective birth cohort studies. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 62, 599–606.Google Scholar
  43. Mentesoglu, G., & Vendrik, M. (2009). Adaption, anticipation and social interaction in happiness: An integrated error-correction approach. Department of Economics, Maastricht University.Google Scholar
  44. Modin, B., Ostberg, V., & Almquist, Y. (2011). Childhood peer status and adult susceptibility to anxiety and depression. A 30 year hospital follow up. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39, 187–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Östberg, V., & Modin, B. (2008). Status relations in school and their relevance for health in a life course perspective: Findings from the Aberdeen children of the 1950’s cohort study. Social Science & Medicine, 66(4), 835–848, ISSN 0277-9536.Google Scholar
  46. Östberg, V., & Modin, B. (2012). Social relationships and subsequent health-related behaviours: Linkages between adolescent peer status and levels of adult smoking in a Stockholm cohort. Addiction, 108(3), 629–637.Google Scholar
  47. Robson, K. (2008). Changes in family structure and the well-being of british children: Evidence from a fifteen-year panel study. Child Indicators Research, 3(1), 65–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Senik, C. (2009). Direct evidence on income comparisons and their welfare effects. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organisation, 72(1), 408–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Smith, J. (2009). The impact of childhood health on adult labor market outcomes. Review of Economics and Statistics, 91, 478–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Veenhoven, R. (1994). Is happiness a trait? Social Indicators Research, 32, 101–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Winkelmann, L., & Winkelmann, R. (1998). Why are the unemployed so unhappy? Evidence from panel data. Economica, 65(257), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

Personalised recommendations