Happiness at Different Ages: The Social Context Matters

71 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2018 Last revised: 21 Feb 2021

See all articles by John F. Helliwell

John F. Helliwell

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Haifang Huang

University of Alberta - Department of Economics

Shun Wang

KDI School of Public Policy and Management

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2018

Abstract

This paper uses a variety of individual-level survey data from several countries to test for interactions between subjective well-being at different ages and variables measuring the nature and quality of the social context at work, at home, and in the community. While earlier studies have found important age patterns (often U-shaped) and social context effects, these two sets of variables have generally been treated as mutually independent. We test for and find several large and highly significant interactions. Results are presented for life evaluations and (in some surveys) for happiness yesterday, in models with and without other control variables. The U-shape in age is found to be significantly flatter, and well-being in the middle of the age range higher, for those who are in workplaces with partner-like superiors, for those living as couples, and for those who have lived for longer in their communities. A strong sense of community belonging is associated with greater life satisfaction at all ages, but especially so at ages 60 and above, in some samples deepening the U-shape in age by increasing the size of the life satisfaction gains following the mid-life low.

Suggested Citation

Helliwell, John F. and Norton, Max and Huang, Haifang and Wang, Shun, Happiness at Different Ages: The Social Context Matters (October 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w25121, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3262356

John F. Helliwell (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics ( email )

997-1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada
604-822-4953 (Phone)
604-822-5915 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Haifang Huang

University of Alberta - Department of Economics ( email )

8-14 HM Tory
Edmonton, AB
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.ualberta.ca/~haifang/index.html

Shun Wang

KDI School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 184
Seoul, 130-868
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

No contact information is available for Max Norton

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
17
Abstract Views
240
PlumX Metrics