Bert van Landeghem, an economist based at Maastricht University in Belgium has found that whilst young adults are care free and hopeful about life and over 50s have come to terms with its trials and tribulations, the middle aged feel weighed down by demands.
Van Landeghems research, which is to be presented to the Royal Economic Society annual conference in London this month, has found that happiness experiences a dip during the middle of people’s lives. This reduction in happiness is the equivalent of losing a job or a family member and it is thought to be linked to financial insecurity and the responsibilities of raising a family and looking after elderly parents.
“A U–shaped happiness curve does not necessarily imply that a 65 year–old prefers his own life to the life of a 25 year old,” said Van Landeghams. “Both the 25 year–old and 65 year–old might agree that it is nicer to be 25 than to be 65. But the 65 year–old might nevertheless be more satisfied, as he has learned to be satisfied with what he has”.
Form the mid forties upwards, individuals tend to become more cheerful and optimistic, perhaps due to a reduction in responsibilities, increased maturity, a focus on things which we enjoy and the ability to cut out things we don’t like.