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Self-esteem development from young adulthood to old age: A cohort-sequential longitudinal study.


The authors examined the development of self-esteem from young adulthood to old age. Data came from
the Americans’ Changing Lives study, which includes 4 assessments across a 16-year period of a
nationally representative sample of 3,617 individuals aged 25 years to 104 years. Latent growth curve
analyses indicated that self-esteem follows a quadratic trajectory across the adult life span, increasing
during young and middle adulthood, reaching a peak at about age 60 years, and then declining in old age.
No cohort differences in the self-esteem trajectory were found. Women had lower self-esteem than did
men in young adulthood, but their trajectories converged in old age. Whites and Blacks had similar
trajectories in young and middle adulthood, but the self-esteem of Blacks declined more sharply in old
age than did the self-esteem of Whites. More educated individuals had higher self-esteem than did less
educated individuals, but their trajectories were similar. Moreover, the results suggested that changes in
socioeconomic status and physical health account for the decline in self-esteem that occurs in old age.
Dr. Kali Trzesniewski,
Sep 29, 2011, 2:44 PM