The Importance of the Baby Boom Cohort and the Great Recession in Understanding Age, Period, and Cohort Patterns in Happiness

Anthony R. Bardo, Scott M. Lynch, Kenneth C. Land

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Twenge, Sherman, and Lyubomirsky (TSL) claim that long-term cultural changes have increased young adults’ happiness while reducing mature adults’ happiness. To establish their conclusion, TSL use trend analyses, as well as more sophisticated mixed-effects models, but their analyses are problematic. In particular, TSL’s trend analyses ignore a crucial cohort effect: well-known lower happiness among baby boomers. Furthermore, their data aggregation obscures the ephemerality of a recent period effect: the Great Recession. Finally, TSL overlook a key finding of their mixed-effects models that both pre- and post-Boomer cohorts became happier as they aged from young to mature adults. Our reanalyses of the data establish that the Baby Boomer cohort, the short-lived Great Recession, and unfortunate data aggregation account for TSL’s results. The well-established, long-term relationship between age and happiness remains as it has been for decades despite any cultural shifts that may have occurred disfavoring mature adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-350
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.

Keywords

  • Baby Boomers
  • Great Recession
  • age–period–cohort
  • aging
  • happiness
  • subjective well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The Importance of the Baby Boom Cohort and the Great Recession in Understanding Age, Period, and Cohort Patterns in Happiness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this