Early adulthood is a time of important transitions that shape the future of young adults. How do these transitions affect well-being, and to what degree can they account for the life satisfaction path followed during young adulthood? To answer these questions, Malgorzata Switek analyzes data on Swedish young adults between 22 and 40 years of age and relates the observed changes in well-being to the main life transitions undergone during that period. She finds that life satisfaction increases in the 20s, peaks at age 30 to 32 and declines thereafter. The paper shows that common transitions can explain this life satisfaction pattern, which looks like the inverted letter U: Between ages 22 through 30, most young adults form partnerships – either by marriage or cohabitation – start their first jobs and become parents. All these events are associated with increasing life satisfaction – especially with respect to the financial and family situation. Yet, after age 30 partnerships are more and more under strain: monetary burdens increase, and parenting older children seems to be more exhausting, which leads to an overall decline in life satisfaction.
First up, then down: life satisfaction of young adults
IZA Discussion Paper No. 7877 Explaining Well-Being over the Life Cycle: A Look at Life Transitions during Young Adulthood
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