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Subjective Well-being and Demographic Events
With the increasing research interest in subjective well-being, the aim of the IUSSP Panel on Subjective Well-being and Demographic Events is to further develop the topic in demography both theoretically and empirically. The Panel aims at enhancing our understanding of the role that subjective well-being plays in life-course events and the ways it matters for demographic processes more generally.
Recently there has been an “explosion” of interdisciplinary studies on this topic, in part prompted by the availability of panel data that is a powerful tool for studying the dynamics of subjective well-being and demographic events over the life course and testing reaction and adaptation effects. Studies thus far show mixed results, asserting either that a large fraction of variation in well-being results from social or biological endowments, while life events may only temporarily change one’s level of well-being or, on the contrary, "big" life events do permanently change levels and perceptions of happiness, although the effect may decay over time. The debate is still open, and there is a need for a stronger theoretical foundation. Furthermore, there are still many challenges in terms of measurement and empirical implementation.
In its four years the panel will produce a series of workshops and seminars emphasizing 1) the further scientific development of the topic and 2) dissemination to those having an interest in incorporating subjective well-being into their demographic research agenda. Through the workshops and seminars, the panel will bring together several scientific disciplines where subjective well-being plays a key role, such as psychology, social anthropology, economics and sociology. It is envisaged that the panel will end its term with either an edited book or a special issue in a key scientific journal of population studies.