The Importance of the Baby Boom Cohort and the Great Recession in Understanding Age, Period, and Cohort Patterns in Happiness.
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.
Bardo, AR; Lynch, SM; Land, KC
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