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Trajectories of adolescent life satisfaction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Amy Orben, Richard E. Lucas, Delia Fuhrmann, Rogier A. Kievit

Original languageEnglish
Article number211808
JournalRoyal Society open science
Issue number8
Published3 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: A.O. was supported by a College Research Fellowship from Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge and by the UK Economic and Social Research Council ES/T008709/1. R.A.K. was supported by the UK Medical Research Council SUAG/047 G101400 and a RadboudUMC Hypatia Fellowship. Funding Information: Understanding Society is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and various Government Departments, with scientific leadership by the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex and survey delivery by NatCen Social Research and Kantar Public. The University of Essex Ethics Committee has approved all data collection on Understanding Society main study and innovation panel waves, including asking consent for all data linkages except to health records. The SOEP survey was led by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) in collaboration with the Kantar Group. Funding is provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and federal state governments. The ethical approval of the SOEP study is under the monitoring of an independent advisory board at the DIW Berlin. The analyses in this paper were, therefore, exempt from needing university ethics as they were classed as using secondary data with appropriate primary ethical approval. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Authors.

King's Authors


Increasing global policy interest in measuring and improving population wellbeing has prompted academic investigations into the dynamics of lifespan life satisfaction. Yet little research has assessed the complete adolescent age range, although it harbours developmental changes that could affect wellbeing far into adulthood. This study investigates how life satisfaction develops throughout the whole of adolescence, and compares this development to that in adulthood, by applying exploratory and confirmatory latent growth curve modelling to UK and German data, respectively (37 076 participants, 10-24 years). We find a near universal decrease in life satisfaction during adolescence. This decrease is steeper than at any other point across adulthood. Further, our findings suggest that adolescent girls' life satisfaction is lower than boys', but that this difference does not extend into adulthood. The study highlights the importance of studying adolescent subjective wellbeing trajectories to inform research, policy and practice.

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