Subjective Well-Being Around the World: Trends and Predictors Across the Life Span
Jebb, A. T., Morrison, M., Tay, L., & Diener, E. (2020). Subjective Well-Being Around the World: Trends and Predictors Across the Life Span. Psychological Science.
Using representative cross-sections from 166 nations (more than 1.7 million respondents), we examined differences in three measures of subjective well-being over the life span. Globally, and in the individual regions of the world, we found only very small differences in life satisfaction and negative affect. By contrast, decreases in positive affect were larger. We then examined four important predictors of subjective well-being and how their associations changed: marriage, employment, prosociality, and life meaning. These predictors were typically associated with higher subjective well- being over the life span in every world region. Marriage showed only very small associations for the three outcomes, whereas employment had larger effects that peaked around age 50 years. Prosociality had practically significant associations only with positive affect, and life meaning had strong, consistent associations with all subjective-well- being measures across regions and ages. These findings enhance our understanding of subjective-well-being patterns and what matters for subjective well-being across the life span.
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