The holiday special edition of Britain’s The Economist features a cover story that looks at studies that show how, beyond middle age, people get happier as they get older.  According to the article, researchers have found that “[w]hen people start out on adult life, they are, on average, pretty cheerful. Things go downhill from youth to middle age until they reach a nadir commonly known as the mid-life crisis. … The surprising part happens after that. Although as people move towards old age they lose things they treasure—vitality, mental sharpness and looks—they also gain what people spend their lives pursuing: happiness.”  Scientist have thus concluded that for many of us “[l]ife is not a long slow decline from sunlit uplands towards the valley of death. It is, rather, a U-bend.”  Remarkably, this U-bend seems to be nearly universal and can be observed in countries as diverse as Ukraine, Switzerland, Zimbabwe and the United States.  In fact, studies  “control[led] for cash, employment status and children” show that “the U-bend is still there.”  This has led scientists to conclude that “the growing happiness that follows middle-aged misery must be the result not of external circumstances but of internal changes.”

According to the article “[t]he ageing of the rich world is normally seen as a burden on the economy and a problem to be solved. The U-bend argues for a more positive view of the matter. The greyer the world gets, the brighter it becomes.”

 

From: The Economist

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