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Is happiness U-shaped everywhere? Age and subjective well-being in 145 countries

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  • David G. Blanchflower

    (Dartmouth College, NBER, Bloomberg, GLO)

Abstract

A large empirical literature has debated the existence of a U-shaped happiness-age curve. This paper re-examines the relationship between various measures of well-being and age in 145 countries, including 109 developing countries, controlling for education and marital and labor force status, among others, on samples of individuals under the age of 70. The U-shape of the curve is forcefully confirmed, with an age minimum, or nadir, in midlife around age 50 in separate analyses for developing and advanced countries as well as for the continent of Africa. The happiness curve seems to be everywhere. While panel data are largely unavailable for this issue, and the findings using such data largely confirm the cross-section results, the paper discusses insights on why cohort effects do not drive the findings. I find the age of the minima has risen over time in Europe and the USA.

Suggested Citation

  • David G. Blanchflower, 2021. "Is happiness U-shaped everywhere? Age and subjective well-being in 145 countries," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(2), pages 575-624, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:34:y:2021:i:2:d:10.1007_s00148-020-00797-z
    DOI: 10.1007/s00148-020-00797-z
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Well-being; Happiness; U-shape in age;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • P51 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics

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