SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research No. 761
Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (DIW), Berlin
Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (N = 13,145), we investigate the effects of (not) achieving aspirations on subjective well-being. We match individual-level data about life satisfaction aspirations with their subsequent realizations and we jointly estimate two panel-data equations, the first depicting the effects that (not) achieving initial aspirations exerts on the subsequent level of life satisfaction, and the second describing the endogenous adjustment process followed by aspirations as a function of beaten and unmet targets. We find that while achieving aspirations exerts weak effects on life satisfaction, failing to match aspired conditions significantly reduces subsequent realizations of life satisfaction. Moreover, our analysis supports a "hedonic adaptation" explanation of the previous results, as we find that aspirations significantly adjust to beaten targets, while they remain almost unchanged in case of unmet targets.
Aspirations Affective forecasts Life Satisfaction Hedonic Adaptation