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

  • Sarah JewellEmail author
  • Uma S. Kambhampati


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.


Life satisfaction Personality Youth happiness 



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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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