Anke C. Plagnol and Jacqueline Scott. "What matters for well-being: Individual perceptions of quality of life before and after important life events".

Applied Research in Quality of Life. 6(2), pp. 115-137 (2011). (journal)(download)

In recent decades, what matters for individual quality of life (QoL) has increasingly been the focus of empirical social science research. However, individuals are rarely asked directly what is important for their quality of life as part of large-scale surveys. The present analysis studies perceptions of what matters for QoL in a large-scale longitudinal dataset - the British Household Panel Survey - which includes an open-ended question on QoL in three waves spanning ten years. We find that concepts of QoL change over the life course and differ between men and women. We hypothesize that changes in perceptions of QoL are related to important life events, such as the birth of a first child and retirement. These life events constitute 'turning points' after which individuals often shift their priorities of what matters for their QoL. We further explore whether such shifts in priorities are stable or disappear more than five years after the life event.