Policy-makers who care about well-being need a recursive model of how

Policy-makers who care about well-being need a recursive model of how adult life-satisfaction is predicted by childhood influences acting both directly and (indirectly) through adult circumstances. family income accounts for only 0.5% of the variance of life-satisfaction. Mental and physical health are much more important. ��The ultimate purpose of economics of course is to understand and promote the enhancement Mef2c of well-being��.1 This sentiment expressed in 2012 by the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve is of course directly in line with that of Adam Smith and the other founding fathers of economics. However what has been lacking is evidence regarding the determinants of well-being. With the rise in interest in subjective well-being across the social sciences that situation is now changing. Cross-sectional data have been analysed for some decades and reveal the strong relation between current characteristics and well-being. But we also need to know CGP 57380 how those characteristics themselves arose if we want to decide at what point in the life-cycle interventions would be most effective. A prerequisite for any policy which aims to maximise well-being is then a model of the life-course that captures in a quantitative way the relative impact of all the main influences upon subsequent well-being. Separate studies of the effect of one variable at a time are of little use in thinking about resource allocation as the size of the different effects have to be compared. The need here is not unlike the need of macroeconomic policy for a working model of CGP 57380 the economy. So it is not surprising that the OECD having developed an international standard for the measurement of well-being 2 are calling for much more research to model what determines it. 1 Why a Life-Course Model? To be useful a model must combine the two main strands in previous well-being research. The first of these pioneered by among others Campbell Converse and Rodgers Diener Kahneman Oswald Frey and Helliwell has focussed on how well-being is affected proximally by other adult outcomes. These include those that can be called ��economic�� (income employment educational qualifications) those that are ��social�� (family status criminality) and those that are ��personal�� (physical and emotional health).3 The second strand of work has used cohort data to explore the distal influence of childhood and adolescence upon adult well-being. This strand follows the earlier work of economists such as Heckman and Smith4 on the lifetime determinants of earnings but with adult well-being now being the outcome of interest. Recent leaders in this field of work include Frijters Johnston and Shields.5 But their work focusses exclusively on the well-being outcome and ignores the determination of other adult outcomes such as income employment family status criminality and health which then feed into well-being. Such CGP 57380 an approach could lead to an excessive focus on childhood and adolescence as determinants of well-being with little role CGP 57380 left for policies relating to adult life. We believe that a combination of the two approaches is required of the kind depicted in Figure 1. In this first attempt at such a combined ��path model�� we take adult life-satisfaction as the measure of a successful life. This life-satisfaction is determined partly by ��adult outcomes�� and partly by family background and childhood development. But these ��adult outcomes�� also have to be explained themselves – and family background and childhood development play an important role in this. Fig. 1 A Model of Adult Life-Satisfaction The key question here is the relative importance of the different links in the chain that predicts life-satisfaction. A good model will focus on the following questions How important are the different adult outcomes (economic social and personal) for well-being? What is the role of the different dimensions of CGP 57380 child development (intellectual performance conduct and emotional health) and of family background? How do they affect adult life-satisfaction both directly and through their effect on adult outcomes? How far can we predict adult life-satisfaction CGP 57380 at different earlier points in a person��s life? In other words does the child ��reveal�� the adult? Or can we all be remade in adulthood? By answering these questions we can have a powerful new integrated way of thinking about how a satisfying life is constructed and in that process what matters more than what. With such models we should be able to help policy-makers with the huge issues they have to decide: how much to spend (or cut) on schools children��s services youth services.