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

Published

Journal Article

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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bardo, AR; Lynch, SM; Land, KC

Published Date

  • April 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 8 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 341 - 350

PubMed ID

  • 30333903

Pubmed Central ID

  • 30333903

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1948-5514

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1948-5506

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/1948550616673874

Language

  • eng