Social Indicators Research

, Volume 109, Issue 2, pp 295–303 | Cite as

The Role of Domain Satisfaction in Explaining the Paradoxical Association Between Life Satisfaction and Age

  • Kimberly K. McAdamsEmail author
  • Richard E. Lucas
  • M. Brent Donnellan


Although aging is associated with declines in many life domains, overall life satisfaction does not appear to decline sharply with age. One explanation for this paradoxical finding is that several life domains improve with age such that increases in certain domains balance the decreases in others. Because different issues are problematic at different life stages, it is likely that specific domains display different life trajectories compared to overall life satisfaction. The observed pattern for overall life satisfaction is likely due to a bottom-up approach. Life and domain satisfaction data from 8 years of the British Household Panel Study were analyzed to evaluate this hypothesis. Results indicated that satisfaction with some life domains increased after middle age (e.g. social life), whereas satisfaction with other life domains decreased (e.g. health). Additionally, results illustrated that although domain satisfaction scores demonstrate distinct trajectories, the aggregate of these distinct domains resembled the overall life satisfaction trajectory. These findings have implications for top-down and bottom-up models of life satisfaction.


Life satisfaction Domain satisfaction Bottom-up models 



Preparation of this manuscript was supported by National Institute on Aging grants 1R03AG026028-01 and 1R03AG028744-01.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kimberly K. McAdams
    • 1
    Email author
  • Richard E. Lucas
    • 2
  • M. Brent Donnellan
    • 2
  1. 1.Boise State UniversityBoiseUSA
  2. 2.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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