Abstract

Are children's statements about their futures related to outcomes in middle age? In 1966 almost 13,500 children ages 12–13 were asked whether they thought their futures would be worse, similar or better as compared to others of their own age. It was shown that children with low, and surprisingly high, expectations did suffer from increased mortality, economic hardship and weak labor market attachment risks in middle age. Although it cannot be ruled out that expectations worked as self-fulfilling prophesies, the analyses showed that expectations essentially reflected facts known to the children (i.e., upbringing conditions and their own abilities and achievements).