The role of domain satisfaction in explaining the paradoxical association between life satisfaction and age

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

November 14, 2012


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.

Published in

Social Indicators Research

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 109 , p.295 -303






Not held in Res Lib - bibliographic reference only



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest