“Experienced Life Cycle Satisfaction in Europe” (received a revise and resubmit, Review of Behavioral Economics)


The average pattern of experienced life cycle satisfaction for the 17 European countries included in this study resembles a wave like M-shape. The M-shape arises because patterns in the majority of countries share the following characteristics: a local maximum in life satisfaction around age 30, declining life satisfaction until around age 50 followed by rising life satisfaction, and declining life satisfaction after age 75. Other features that are shared among the majority of countries are male life satisfaction improving relative to female life satisfaction as people age, and more educated people reporting higher levels of life satisfaction throughout the entire life cycle. Although these characteristics are shared by the majority of countries, taking the entire life cycle into consideration there is no uniform life satisfaction pattern shared by all countries. The findings from this study are based on a non-parametric analysis using repeated cross sectional Eurobarometer data spanning 1973 to 2010. The analysis includes controls for cohort effects and other characteristics that are fixed throughout the life cycle. Controls for non-fixed characteristics are not included because the aim of the study is to describe and compare experienced life satisfaction over the life cycle. An advantage of this study is the analysis uses the same methodology to analyze data that were collected using uniform methods among countries, so it can be concluded that results in this study are identified due to differences in life cycle patterns, not differences in the methodologies or data. 


Email Robson Morgan for a copy of the paper at rhmorgan@usc.edu