Do People Adapt to Poorer Health? Health and Health Satisfaction over the Life Cycle
- 455 Downloads
As people get older, health deteriorates and so too does satisfaction with health. Moreover, differences in health and health satisfaction by gender are positively associated, as are differences by race, education, and cohort. These findings are based on an analysis of data from the United States General Social Survey.
The set point theory of psychology asserts that people adapt rapidly and completely to poorer health. If this were so, then satisfaction with health should be unaffected by changes or differences in actual health. The empirical results of the present analysis suggest that there is some adaptation to poorer health, but they do not support the view of set point theory that adaptation is rapid and complete.
KeywordsLife satisfaction Setpoint theory Adaptation Life cycle Health Health satisfaction
I am grateful for the assistance of Donna Hokoda Ebata, Pouyan Mashayekh-Ahangarani, and Shaked Peleg. Financial support was provided by the University of Southern California.
- Argyle, M., 1987. The Psychology of Happiness. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
- Crimmins, Eileen M., Mark D. Hayward, and Teresa Seeman, 2004. “Race/Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Status, and Health,” in N. Anderson, R. Bulatao, and B. Cohen, eds., Critical Perspectives on Race and Ethnic Differences in Health in Later Life, National Academy of Sciences, 310–352.Google Scholar
- Diener, Ed, 1984. “Subjective Well-Being,” Psychological Bulletin, 45, 542–575.Google Scholar
- Diener, Ed, and Richard E. Lucas, 1999. “Personality and Subjective Well-Being,” in Daniel Kahneman, Ed Diener, and Norbert Schwarz (eds.), Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology, New York: Russell Sage, 213–229.Google Scholar
- Golini, Antonio and Plautilla Calvani, 2001. Relationships Between Perceptions of Health, Chronic Diseases and Disabilities, Nihon University, Population Research Institute.Google Scholar
- Idler, Ellen L. and Yael Banyamini, 1997. “Self-Rated Health and Mortality: A Review of Twenty-Seven Community Studies,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 38:1 (March), 21–37.Google Scholar
- Kahneman, Daniel, Ed Diener, and Norbert Schwarz, eds., 1999. Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
- Lykken, David and Auke Tellegen, 1996. “Happiness is a Stochastic Phenomenon,” Psychological Science, 7:3 (May), 180–189.Google Scholar
- McNeil, Jack, 1997. “Americans with Disabilities,” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, Series P-70-73, Household Economic Studies, 1–17.Google Scholar
- Myers, David G., 1992. The Pursuit of Happiness. New York: Avon.Google Scholar
- National Opinion Research Center, 2011. General Social Surveys, 1972–2010. Chicago: National Opinion Research Center.Google Scholar
- Smith, V. Kerry, Donald H. Taylor, Jr., and Frank A. Sloan, 2001. “Longevity Expectations and Death: Can People Predict their Own Demise?” American Economic Review 91:4 (September), 1126–1134.Google Scholar