Back to Baseline in Britain: Adaptation in the BHPS

22 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2012

See all articles by Andrew Clark

Andrew Clark

Paris School of Economics (PSE); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Yannis Georgellis

University of Kent


We look for evidence of adaptation in well-being to major life events using eighteen waves of British panel data. Adaptation to marriage, divorce, birth of a child and widowhood appears to be rapid and complete, whereas this is not the case for unemployment. These findings are remarkably similar to those in previous work on German panel data. Equally, the time profiles with life satisfaction as the well-being measure are very close to those using a twelve-item scale of psychological functioning. As such, the phenomenon of adaptation may be a general one, rather than being only found in German data or using single-item well-being measures.

Keywords: life satisfaction, anticipation, adaptation, baseline satisfaction, labour market and life events

JEL Classification: I31, J12, J13, J63, J64

Suggested Citation

Clark, Andrew Eric and Georgellis, Yannis, Back to Baseline in Britain: Adaptation in the BHPS. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6426, Available at SSRN: or

Andrew Eric Clark (Contact Author)

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Yannis Georgellis

University of Kent ( email )

Canterbury, Kent CT2 7PE
United Kingdom

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