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

Authors
  • Blanchflower, David G.1
  • 1 Dartmouth College, NBER, Bloomberg, GLO,
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Population Economics
Publisher
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Publication Date
Sep 09, 2020
Pages
1–50
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00148-020-00797-z
PMID: 32929308
PMCID: PMC7480662
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Original Paper
License
Unknown

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.

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