A life course model for a domains-of-life approach to happiness: Evidence from the United States

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26 Scopus citations


A great deal of methodological attention has been given to identifying age patterns in happiness. Yet, few studies have questioned why any specific age pattern should exist, and researchers have tended to focus on socio-psychological rather than socio-structural mechanisms. Thus, I blend life course and subjective well-being theories and utilize multiple waves of nationally representative cross-sectional data from the United States to throw light on the important role of socio-structural mechanisms. Specifically, the age pattern in happiness is driven by distinct patterns in levels, and importance, of satisfaction with specific areas of life. These distinct patterns, which are grounded in the successful aging paradigm, largely explain the slightly increasing quadratic age pattern in American's happiness that researchers have become familiar with. These findings have broad implications for developing initiatives aimed at improving quality of life, and they draw attention to the need for more life course research on subjective well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-22
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Life Course Research
StatePublished - Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by NIA T32AG000139 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Aging
  • Domain satisfaction
  • Happiness
  • Subjective well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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