The Age u-shape in Europe. The Protective Role of the Family

The Age u-shape in Europe. The Protective Role of the Family

Angela Greulich
Séminaire scientifique de l'OSC - Vendredi 4 octobre 2019
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Séminaire scientifique de l'OSC 2019-2020

98, rue de l'Université 75007 Paris - salle Georges Lavau

vendredi 4 octobre 2019 de 12h à 13h30

The Age U-shape in Europe: The Protective Role of the Family
Angela Greulich (OSC)

with Andrew E. Clark (Paris School of Economics - CNRS)
& Hippolyte d'Albis (Paris School of Economics - CNRS)

We look at the relationship between subjective well-being and age, as moderated by partnership status and having children.
We consider cross-section data from the 2013 EU-SILC survey providing harmonised information on over 350 000 individuals in 32 different countries.
We find an overall U-shape in age for various measures of subjective well-being, as is very standard in the empirical literature. When we consider the moderating role of the family, we find that the U-shape is concentrated amongst those who do not have children and those who are not partnered. This is not a general phenomenon as this protective role of the family is found in particular for overall life satisfaction, satisfaction with income and satisfaction with personal relationships, but not at all for job satisfaction or satisfaction with time use.

The family seems to protect at least some domains of subjective well-being against the typical fall in well-being associated with middle age. While it is true that there is selection into both partnership and having children, this is assumed to work via the level of subjective well-being and not by the way in which well-being changes with age, so that we do not believe that these findings reflect selection. At a more general level, what look like well-known empirical findings in the well-being literature may actually only hold for particular groups. In terms of implications, decreasing rates of both partnership and child-bearing look to have particularly important consequences for the well-being of Europeans aged between 30 and 50.

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