Like fine wine and stinky cheese, we just get better with age. Or happier, anyway, as new research out of the U.S. suggests.
The study, conducted at the University of Chicago and published in the American Sociological Review, was based on data from the General Social Survey, conducted each year by the U.S. National Opinion Research Center. Some 1,500 to 3,000 people are polled each year and asked the question, "Taken all together, how would you say things are these days — would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?"
While between 15 and 33 percent of 18-year-olds reported feeling happy, the numbers climbed to 50 percent by the time people reached their 80s. Boomers, however, reported lower levels of happiness.
“Understanding happiness is important to understanding quality of life. The happiness measure is a guide to how well society is meeting people’s needs,” said Yang Yang, author of the article, in a press release.
Yang speculates that the age-related happiness increase has to do with positive psychosocial traits, such as self-esteem and self-integration, increase with maturity.
Other research has suggested that happiness patterns over the course of our lifespan takes on a U-shaped curve, and that we bottom out at age 44 (which could explain the boomers finding in this study).
What about you? How does your current level of happiness rate compared to when you were younger? (Reuters)