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.