NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Is Happiness U-shaped Everywhere? Age and Subjective Well-being in 132 Countries

David G. Blanchflower

NBER Working Paper No. 26641
Issued in January 2020
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

I draw systematic comparisons across 109 data files and 132 countries of the relationship between well-being, variously defined, and age. I produce 444 significant country estimates with controls, so these are ceteris paribus effects, and find evidence of a well-being U-shape in age in one hundred and thirty-two countries, including ninety-five developing countries, controlling for education, marital and labor force status. I also frequently find it without any controls at all. There is additional evidence from an array of attitudinal questions that were worded slightly differently than standard happiness or life satisfaction questions such as satisfaction with an individual's financial situation. Averaging across the 257 individual country estimates from developing countries gives an age minimum of 48.2 for well-being and doing the same across the 187 country estimates for advanced countries gives a similar minimum of 47.2. The happiness curve is everywhere.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26641

 
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