Explaining Well-Being over the Life Cycle: A Look at Life Transitions during Young Adulthood
Malgorzata Switek, University of Southern California
Early adulthood is a time of important life transitions. How do these transitions affect well-being, and to what degree can they account for the life satisfaction path followed during young adulthood? To answer these questions, longitudinal data from the Swedish Young Adult Panel Study are used. Four age intervals covering ages 22 through 40 are constructed. The well-being changes and the main transitions undergone during each age interval are examined. Life satisfaction at ages 22 to 40 follows a slight inverse U-shape peaking around age 30/32 and declining thereafter. Young adults ages 22 through 30/32 are observed to be going mainly through partnership formation, the school-to-work transition, and the early years of parenting. After age 30 parenting continues as an important life transition, and is joined by an increase in partnership dissolution. These transitions alone are found to account for the inverse U-shape followed by overall life satisfaction.