Life satisfaction across the lifespan: findings from two nationally representative panel studies

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2010


Two large-scale, nationally representative panel studies (the German Socio Economic Panel Study and the British Household Panel Study) were used to assess changes in life satisfaction over the lifespan. The cross-sectional and longitudinal features of these studies were used to isolate age-related changes from confounding factors including instrumentation effects and cohort effects. Although estimated satisfaction trajectories varied somewhat across studies, two consistent findings emerged. First, both studies show that life satisfaction does not decline over much of adulthood. Second, there is a steep decline in life satisfaction among those older than 70. The British data also showed a relatively large increase in satisfaction from the 40s to the early 70s. Thus, age differences in well-being can be quite large and deserve increased empirical and theoretical attention.

Published in

Social Indicators Research


Volume: 99 (2):183-203




not held in Res Lib - bibliographic reference only



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