Do People Adapt to Poorer Health? Health and Health Satisfaction over the Life Cycle

  • Richard A. EasterlinEmail author
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 60)


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.


Life 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.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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