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

Cheng, Terence C., Powdthavee, Nattavudh and Oswald, Andrew J. (2017) Longitudinal evidence for a midlife nadir in human well-being: Results from four data sets. The Economic Journal, 127 (599). pp. 126-142. ISSN 0013-0133

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Identification Number: 10.1111/ecoj.12256


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.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Authors © CC BY
Divisions: Centre for Economic Performance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2016 14:13
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2024 21:27
Projects: R01AG040640
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, UK Department for Work and Pensions, U.S. National Institute of Aging

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