Make that the W-shaped happiness curve

I’ve blogged several times about “U-shaped happiness curve” studies  that show Americans to be most content at the beginning and end of their lives. Another one, the “August National Well-Being Index,” was released by Gallup on September 10th.  (Great news: Americans’ grip on their flotation cushions has relaxed by .07% since January!) But a recent post on the New York Times Economix blog looks at a more drilled-down analysis of that data, which shows Americans in their 50s and late 80s to be least happy.

Contentment still prevails:  70% of those in their 50s and 69% of those in their late 80s “Say They Experienced Happiness, Enjoyment, and Smiling or Laughter During a Lot of the Day ‘Yesterday.’” (Maybe I’m just cranky because I’m in my 50s, but who besides Ronald MacDonald and the Joker experiences smiling during a lot of any day?) Another point worth noting: happiness rates for men and women diverge by less than one percentage point — until until their 90s, when women’s 74% puts them five points ahead of their male counterparts. A lot of my interview subjects are in their 90s and next week in St. Louis I’ll be interviewing a 102-year-old who volunteers in a neonatal clinic.  I think I need to drill down a little further myself into how what changes in the late 80s.  I bet people are happier just to be alive.

2 thoughts on “Make that the W-shaped happiness curve

  1. I tried to retire when I was 58. My financial advisor, who was then 73, told took me out to dinner and over coffee told me I would be bored in 6 weeks. He was wrong, I was pretty bored by the end of the third week. Now I am 60 and I try to work as much as I can.  I’m happier this way and keep out of people’s hair.  It’s the kind thing to do.

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