The Long-Lasting Effects of Family and Childhood on Adult Wellbeing: Evidence from British Cohort Data
Sarah Flèche (Centre for Economic Performance – LSE – London School of Economics and Political Science) ; Warn Lekfuangfu (LSE – London School of Economics and Political Science, Chulalongkorn University (THAILAND) – Chulalongkorn University (THAILAND)) ; Andrew E. Clark (Centre for Economic Performance – LSE – London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE – London School of Economics and Political Science, PSE – Paris School of Economics, PJSE – Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques – UP1 – Université Panthéon-Sorbonne – ENS Paris – École normale supérieure – Paris – INRA – Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique – EHESS – École des hautes études en sciences sociales – ENPC – École des Ponts ParisTech – CNRS – Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
To what extent do childhood experiences continue to affect adult wellbeing over the life course? Previous work on this link has been carried out either at one particular adult age or for some average of adulthood. We here use two British birth-cohort datasets (the 1958 NCDS and the 1970 BCS) to map out the time profile of the effect of childhood on adult outcomes, including life satisfaction. We find that the effect of many aspects of childhood do not fade away over time, but are rather remarkably stable. In both birth cohorts child non-cognitive skills are the strongest predictors of adult life satisfaction at all ages. Of these, emotional health is the strongest. Childhood cognitive performance is more important than good conduct in explaining adult life satisfaction in the earlier cohort, whereas this ranking is inverted in the more recent BCS.
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