The age U-shape in Europe: the protective role of partnership
Vienna Yearbook of Population research
life cycle, life satisfaction, partnership, marriage
In this study, we ask whether the U-shaped relationship between life satisfactionand age is flatter for individuals who are partnered. An analysis of cross-sectionalEU-SILC data indicates that the decline in life satisfaction from the teens to thefifties is almost four times larger for non-partnered than for partnered individuals,whose life satisfaction essentially follows a slight downward trajectory with age.However, the same analysis applied to three panel datasets (BHPS, SOEP andHILDA) reveals a U-shape for both groups, albeit somewhat flatter for the partneredthan for the non-partnered individuals. We suggest that the difference between thecross-sectional and the panel results reflects compositional effects: i.e., there isa significant shift of the relatively dissatisfied out of marriage in mid-life. Thesecompositional effects tend to flatten the U-shape in age for the partnered individualsin the cross-sectional data.