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Is Happiness U-shaped Everywhere? Age and Subjective Well-being in 132 Countries

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  • David G. Blanchflower

Abstract

I draw systematic comparisons across 109 data files and 132 countries of the relationship between well-being, variously defined, and age. I produce 444 significant country estimates with controls, so these are ceteris paribus effects, and find evidence of a well-being U-shape in age in one hundred and thirty-two countries, including ninety-five developing countries, controlling for education, marital and labor force status. I also frequently find it without any controls at all. There is additional evidence from an array of attitudinal questions that were worded slightly differently than standard happiness or life satisfaction questions such as satisfaction with an individual's financial situation. Averaging across the 257 individual country estimates from developing countries gives an age minimum of 48.2 for well-being and doing the same across the 187 country estimates for advanced countries gives a similar minimum of 47.2. The happiness curve is everywhere.

Suggested Citation

  • David G. Blanchflower, 2020. "Is Happiness U-shaped Everywhere? Age and Subjective Well-being in 132 Countries," NBER Working Papers 26641, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26641
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General

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