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Trajectories of adolescent life satisfaction

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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.



Psychology and cognitive neuroscience, Research articles, life satisfaction, latent growth models, lifespan development, adolescents, sex differences, subjective wellbeing

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The Royal Society
Medical Research Council (SUAG/047 G101400)
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/T008709/1)
Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge (College Research Fellowship)
Radboud Universiteit (RadboudUMC Hypatia Fellowship)