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      Happiness, stress, and age: how the U curve varies across people and places

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      Journal of Population Economics

      Springer Nature

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          A snapshot of the age distribution of psychological well-being in the United States.

          Psychological well-being (WB) includes a person's overall appraisal of his or her life (Global WB) and affective state (Hedonic WB), and it is considered a key aspect of the health of individuals and groups. Several cross-sectional studies have documented a relation between Global WB and age. Little is known, however, about the age distribution of Hedonic WB. It may yield a different view of aging because it is less influenced by the cognitive reconstruction inherent in Global WB measures and because it includes both positive and negative components of WB. In this study we report on both Global and Hedonic WB assessed in a 2008 telephone survey of 340,847 people in the United States. Consistent with prior studies, Global WB and positive Hedonic WB generally had U-shaped age profiles showing increased WB after the age of 50 years. However, negative Hedonic WB variables showed distinctly different and stronger patterns: Stress and Anger steeply declined from the early 20s, Worry was elevated through middle age and then declined, and Sadness was essentially flat. Unlike a prior study, men and women had very similar age profiles of WB. Several measures that could plausibly covary with the age-WB association (e.g., having children at home) did not alter the age-WB patterns. Global and Hedonic WB measures appear to index different aspects of WB over the lifespan, and the postmidlife increase in WB, especially in Hedonic WB, deserves continued exploration.
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            Estimating the influence of life satisfaction and positive affect on later income using sibling fixed effects.

            The question of whether there is a connection between income and psychological well-being is a long-studied issue across the social, psychological, and behavioral sciences. Much research has found that richer people tend to be happier. However, relatively little attention has been paid to whether happier individuals perform better financially in the first place. This possibility of reverse causality is arguably understudied. Using data from a large US representative panel, we show that adolescents and young adults who report higher life satisfaction or positive affect grow up to earn significantly higher levels of income later in life. We focus on earnings approximately one decade after the person's well-being is measured; we exploit the availability of sibling clusters to introduce family fixed effects; we account for the human capacity to imagine later socioeconomic outcomes and to anticipate the resulting feelings in current well-being. The study's results are robust to the inclusion of controls such as education, intelligence quotient, physical health, height, self-esteem, and later happiness. We consider how psychological well-being may influence income. Sobel-Goodman mediation tests reveal direct and indirect effects that carry the influence from happiness to income. Significant mediating pathways include a higher probability of obtaining a college degree, getting hired and promoted, having higher degrees of optimism and extraversion, and less neuroticism.
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              Does happiness pay?An exploration based on panel data from Russia

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of Population Economics
                J Popul Econ
                Springer Nature
                0933-1433
                1432-1475
                January 2017
                September 2016
                : 30
                : 1
                : 225-264
                Article
                10.1007/s00148-016-0611-2
                © 2017

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