Skip to content

Journal Article

The mystery of the U-shaped relationship between happiness and age

Authors

Publication date

May 2012

Summary

In this paper, we address the puzzle of the relationship between age and happiness. Whilst the majority of psychologists have concluded there is not much of a relationship at all, the economic literature has unearthed a possible U-shape relationship with the minimum level of satisfaction occurring in middle age (35–50). In this paper, we look for a U-shape in three panel data sets, the German Socioeconomic Panel (GSOEP), the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and the Household Income Labour Dynamics Australia (HILDA). We find that the raw data mainly supports a wave-like shape that only weakly looks U-shaped for the 20–60 age range. That weak U-shape in middle age becomes more pronounced when allowing for socio-economic variables. When we then take account of selection effects via fixed-effects, however, the dominant age-effect in all three panels is a strong happiness increase around the age of 60 followed by a major decline after 75, with the U-shape in middle age disappearing such that there is almost no change in happiness between the age of 20 and 50

Published in

Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization

Volume and page numbers

82 , 525 -542

DOI

http://0-dx.doi.org.serlib0.essex.ac.uk/10.1016/j.jebo.2012.03.008

ISSN

16

Subjects

Well Being and Life Course Analysis

Links

http://serlib0.essex.ac.uk/record=b1646363~S5

Notes

Albert Sloman Library Periodicals *restricted to Univ. Essex registered users*


Related publications

  1. When are the happiest years of your life?

    Paul Frijters and Tony Beatton

#520689


Research home

Research home

News

Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author

Podcasts

Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society

Projects

Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs

Events

Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report

Themes

Key research themes and areas of interest