Is Happiness U-shaped Everywhere? Age and Subjective Well-being in 145 Countries

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April 2020
Paper author(s): 
David G. Blanchflower
Poverty - Inequality - Aid Effectiveness

A large empirical literature has debated the U-shaped happiness-age curve. This paper re-examines the relationship between various measures of well-being and age in one hundred and forty-five countries, including one hundred and nine developing countries, controlling for education, marital and labor force status, among others on samples of individuals under the age of seventy. The curve is forcefully confirmed with an age minimum, or nadir, in midlife around age fifty, employing separate analyses for developing and advanced countries as well as for the continent of Africa as robustness checks. While panel data are largely unavailable for this issue, and the finding using such data largely confirms the cross-section results, the paper discusses insights on why cohort effects do not drive the findings. I find the minima has risen over time in Europe and the United States. The happiness curve seems to be everywhere.



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