The Plotting of Happiness
|September 21, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Behavorial Health, Elderly, Health, Research||
An international study out of Australia found that happiness peaks (on average) during a person’s 60’s, then begins to decline, before dropping off considerably. Earlier this year, Dr Tony Beatton of Queensland University of Technology and Professor Paul Frijters of The University of Queensland reported findings from their analysis of data from approximately 60,000 people from Australia, Britain and Germany. Highlights include:
- Persons entering middle/retirement age (55 to 75 years) reported the highest levels of happiness
- The data from Germany showed a decrease in happiness as persons entered adulthood, then a peak at age 65 – a pattern different from the other data
- Happiness dropped significantly after age 75 across cases
This research adds to the discussion of the ‘U bend of happiness” (see a great write-up on it in The Economist), the concept that happiness ultimately culminates in late middle age; but Beatton and Frijters also address the drop in happiness after age 75, suggesting that it is related to the onset or worsening of health problems. This aligns with prior research on the relationship between the presentation of depression symptoms and medical issues/illnesses among the elderly population.
Study Citation: Frijters, Paul & Beatton, Tony, 2012. “The mystery of the U-shaped relationship between happiness and age,” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 525-542