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At what ages are we happiest?

Previous happiness research has explicitly assumed that subjective well-being is U-shaped in age. This paper sheds new light on this issue testing several functional forms. Using micro data from the World Values Survey on 44 000 persons in 30 economically advanced OECD countries with long life expectancies, we reveal a hyperbolic functional form. We find that life satisfaction reaches another local maximum around the age of 83, with a level identical to that of a 26-year old. This hyperbolic well-being age relation is robust to the inclusion of cohort effects. We test this relationship for each OECD country separately, and corroborate the functional form using a sample of non-OECD countries.

Source: “Happiness and Age Cycles – Return to Start…?: On the Functional Relationship between Subjective Well-Being and Age” from No 99, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers from OECD, Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs

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About Eric Barker