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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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    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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    1. Piper, Alan, 2021. "Temps dip deeper: Temporary employment and the midlife nadir in human well-being," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 19(C).
    2. David G. Blanchflower & Alex Bryson, 2021. "Taking the Pulse of Nations: A Biometric Measure of Well-being," DoQSS Working Papers 21-35, Quantitative Social Science - UCL Social Research Institute, University College London.
    3. Clark, Andrew E. & Díaz Serrano, Lluís, 2020. "The Long-run Effects of Housing on Well-Being," Working Papers 2072/376033, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
    4. Hudomiet, Péter & Hurd, Michael D. & Rohwedder, Susann, 2021. "The age profile of life satisfaction after age 65 in the U.S," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 189(C), pages 431-442.
    5. de Pedraza, Pablo & Guzi, Martin & Tijdens, Kea, 2020. "Life Dissatisfaction and Anxiety in COVID-19 pandemic," GLO Discussion Paper Series 544, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    6. Ferranna, Maddalena & Sevilla, J.P. & Zucker, Leo & Bloom, David E., 2022. "Patterns of Time Use among Older People," IZA Discussion Papers 15227, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Georgellis, Yannis & Clark, Andrew E. & Apergis, Emmanuel & Robinson, Catherine, 2022. "Occupational Status and Life Satisfaction in the UK: The Miserable Middle?," IZA Discussion Papers 15360, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Baktash, Mehrzad B. & Heywood, John S. & Jirjahn, Uwe, 2021. "Worker Stress and Performance Pay: German Survey Evidence," GLO Discussion Paper Series 1000, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    9. Blanchflower, David G. & Piper, Alan, 2022. "There is a mid-life low in well-being in Germany," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 214(C).
    10. David G. Blanchflower & Alex Bryson, 2022. "The Female Happiness Paradox," NBER Working Papers 29893, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Blanchflower, David G. & Piper, Alan, 2021. "The well-being age U-shape effect in Germany is not flat," GLO Discussion Paper Series 921, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    12. Junji Kageyama & Kazuma Sato, 2021. "Explaining the U-shaped life satisfaction: dissatisfaction as a driver of behavior," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 179-202, July.
    13. 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.
    14. David G. Blanchflower & Carol L. Graham, 2022. "The Mid-Life Dip in Well-Being: a Critique," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 161(1), pages 287-344, May.
    15. Janina Nemitz, 2022. "Increasing longevity and life satisfaction: is there a catch to living longer?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 35(2), pages 557-589, April.
    16. David Bartram, 2021. "Is happiness u-shaped in age everywhere? A methodological reconsideration for Europe," Papers 2108.13671, arXiv.org, revised Feb 2022.
    17. Meltem Ucal & Simge Günay, 2022. "Household Happiness and Fuel Poverty: a Cross-Sectional Analysis on Turkey," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 17(1), pages 391-420, February.
    18. Begoña Álvarez, 2022. "The Best Years of Older Europeans’ Lives," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 160(1), pages 227-260, February.
    19. Victoria Ateca-Amestoy & Anna Villarroya & Andreas Joh. Wiesand, 2021. "Heritage Engagement and Subjective Well-Being in the European Union," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(17), pages 1-16, August.
    20. Biermann, Philipp & Bitzer, Jürgen & Gören, Erkan, 2022. "The relationship between age and subjective well-being: Estimating within and between effects simultaneously," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 21(C).
    21. Dimiter Toshkov, 2022. "The Relationship Between Age and Happiness Varies by Income," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 1169-1188, March.
    22. Kerstin Mitterbacher, 2021. "Motives for economic migration: a review," Working Paper Series, Social and Economic Sciences 2021-07, Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Karl-Franzens-University Graz.
    23. František Petrovič & František Murgaš & Roman Králik, 2021. "Happiness in Czechia during the COVID-19 Pandemic," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(19), pages 1-16, September.
    24. Annie Tubadji, 2021. "Culture and mental health resilience in times of COVID-19," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(4), pages 1219-1259, October.

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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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