Why Aging and Working Makes us Happy in 4 Charts
How are age, employment, and happiness related? Four charts in Carol Graham and Milena Nikolova’s latest paper illustrate that flexible employment arrangements are linked to higher happiness levels.
In the past few years, economists and other social scientists have made great strides in developing measures to assess subjective well-being (or, more colloquially, happiness), which has deepened our understanding of well-being beyond the traditional income dimensions. There are remarkably consistent patterns in the determinants of subjective well-being across people within and across countries and cultures around the world. One of the most striking of these is the relationship between age and happiness (which is good news for those of us who are already on the “back-nine”). There is a U-shaped curve, with the low point in happiness being at roughly age 40 around the world, with some modest differences across countries. It seems that our veneration of (or for some of us, nostalgia, for) youth as the happiest times of our lives is overblown, the middle age years are, well, as expected, and then things get better as we age, as long as we are reasonably healthy (age-adjusted) and in a stable partnership. [...]