We're Most Miserable in Middle Age

Satisfaction declines in late 20s; climbs in late 50s: study

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 18, 2011 6:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – We’ve learned that the world’s happiest person is 69, and that we may be happiest in old age; now a study suggests that we’re at our most miserable in middle age. Indeed, life satisfaction is “U-shaped,” the Telegraph reports: happiness can start to decline in our late 20s and doesn’t climb back until we’re over 50, a researcher in Belgium finds. Before our late 20s, we’ve got less to worry about and we’re optimistic; by our late 50s, we’ve accepted life’s difficulties.

But “a substantial dip in happiness during the middle of people's lives is the equivalent to becoming unemployed or losing a family member,” the study says. “Both the 25-year-old and 65-year-old might agree that it is nicer to be 25 than to be 65,” the 29-year-old researcher notes. “But the 65-year-old might nevertheless be more satisfied, as he has learned to be satisfied with what he has."

Middle-aged people are the least satisfied with their lives, a study suggests.
Middle-aged people are the least satisfied with their lives, a study suggests.   (Shutterstock)
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