Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Curve of Happiness

Happiness is a u-shaped curve, says Dartmouth economist David G. Blanchflower. Young adults are relatively happy. As they age into their middle years, fewer feel happy—perhaps because of troubles with their children, spouse, career, or finances. Happiness bottoms out in middle-age. But that's not the end of it. Things get better as people reach their golden years, with a growing percentage feeling happy again.

The u-shape of happiness occurs not just in the United States but around the world. Blanchflower examines the relationship between age and happiness in 132 countries. Happiness reaches its lowest point at age 48.2 in developing countries and age 47.2 in advanced countries. "The happiness curve is everywhere," he concludes.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, David G. Blanchflower, Unhappiness and Age, Working Paper No. 26642 ($5); and Is Happiness U-Shaped Everywhere? Age and Subjective Wellbeing in 132 Countries, Working Paper No. 26641 ($5)

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