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Satisfaction and goals in life

A comparison of the satisfaction values according to age groups shows a U-shaped correlation between age and general life satisfaction, with slightly lower satisfaction values at middle age compared to youth and old-age. General life satisfaction conceals various trends with regard to area-specific satisfaction values: Due to age-related health problems, the satisfaction with one’s own health decreases with increasing age, however, during the phase of life following retirement, the satisfaction with free time (for oneself and for others) increases. Thanks to the (at least currently) good policy related to security in old age, satisfaction with the financial situation during later phases of life is high in Switzerland.


Source: Swiss Household Panel 2014


When examining the personal importance of (selected) living values, a comparison of age groups reveals several clear differences. The participants were asked:

- “In the following, I will briefly describe various people. For each person, please decide if they are very similar, similar, somewhat similar, only very slightly similar, not similar or not at all similar to you….(for example) It is important to him to develop new ideas and to be creative. He likes to do things his own original way.” (The chart shows the respondents who answered “very similar” or “similar”)”.


Source: European Social Survey 2014

Young people place a higher value on fun and on an exciting, adventurous life than older people. Younger people also attach a higher value to achieving success and acclaim, as well as to trying out new things. In contrast, older respondents place a higher value on proper behaviour and abiding by rules, which is likely to be a reflection of a generational difference rather than an age effect. Consistently in all age groups, a large proportion of respondents feel that it is important to develop new ideas and be creative.

The bottom end of the hierarchy of values is consistently formed by the item of having money and material possessions (being rich, owning expensive things). To what extent this corresponds to the actual value hierarchy or whether it is rather the representation of response behaviour in the direction of socially accepted behaviour, remains open. Without further analysis, the low percentage values should not be interpreted as an indication of a renunciation of materialistic values.

Download data from the graph (Excel file)

For more information:

-          Swiss Household Panel

-          Data from the Swiss Household Panel

-          ESS

-          Swiss data from the ESS (FORS Nesstar)


Source of texts and charts is the Swiss Social Report 2016:

Franziska Ehrler, Felix Bühlmann, Peter Farago, François Höpflinger, Dominique Joye, Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello und Christian Suter (Hg.). Swiss Social Report 2016: Wellbeing. Zürich: Seismo-Verlag.