Life-course predictors of wellbeing in emerging adulthood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Emerging adulthood is a protracted period of instability and uncertainty. Good wellbeing can act as a buffer against the negative health consequences associated with stresses experienced at this age, and also predicts future positive outcomes. But the literature is sparse on the developmental origins of wellbeing in emerging adulthood. This study builds upon established life-course models to investigate the relative effects of distal and proximal predictors on wellbeing at this age. 4,222 individuals from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children completed a comprehensive wellbeing questionnaire at age 22-25. Predictors in our life-course model included family and child level factors capturing early childhood, late childhood and adolescence as well as concurrent emerging adult level factors to predict wellbeing outcomes. On average, our models explained approximately 30% of the variance in wellbeing. We found that, in general, emotional health followed by self-perceived general health are the strongest predictors of wellbeing. Partnership and employment were also correlated with many wellbeing outcomes, suggesting the salience of these developmental goals at this age. More research that tests causality is needed but our results suggest that policies focussing on general health, specifically emotional health, may bring the most benefits to wellbeing over and above educational or economic policies In addition, we found differences in the life-course models of hedonic wellbeing (happiness) and eudaimonic wellbeing (meaning in life). For policy makers, we suggest the consideration of these outcomes in addition to the commonly used life satisfaction to provide a more comprehensive picture of public wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Publication statusSubmitted - 17 Oct 2020

Structured keywords

  • Mental Health Data Science


  • wellbeing
  • emerging adulthood


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