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Is Happiness U-shaped Everywhere? Age and Subjective Well-being in 145 Countries

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  • Blanchflower, David G.

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

  • Blanchflower, David G., 2020. "Is Happiness U-shaped Everywhere? Age and Subjective Well-being in 145 Countries," GLO Discussion Paper Series 530, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:530
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 1st February 2021
      by Chris Sampson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2021-02-01 12:00:03

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    Cited by:

    1. Alan Piper, 2020. "Temps Dip Deeper: Temporary Employment and the Midlife Nadir in Human Well-Being," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1109, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Daniel J. Benjamin & Jakina Debnam Guzman & Marc Fleurbaey & Ori Heffetz & Miles Kimball, 2021. "What Do Happiness Data Mean? Theory and Survey Evidence," GRU Working Paper Series GRU_2021_002, City University of Hong Kong, Department of Economics and Finance, Global Research Unit.
    3. Péter Hudomiet & Michael D. Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2020. "The Age Profile of Life-satisfaction After Age 65 in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 28037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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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 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics

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