The extraordinary year that was 2020 (and 2021 is shaping up to also be a doozy) has changed the way people view happiness. After reviewing life satisfaction statistics from several different countries, new research finds that age is less important to well-being than wealth, education, health, and control are.
In a new study authored by Felix Bitmann, of the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories, it’s suggested that the relationship between mental wellness, age, and circumstance is more complicated than previously published statistical literature has indicated.
Much of this data often seeks to determine the approximate age when people begin to become more depressed.
Questionnaires were provided to the study pool with the query: All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?
“Since (chronological) age is the time span between the date of birth and present, and time passes equally for all beings (on planet earth), there is no good justification to include any sociodemographic control variables when the causal relationship between age and life satisfaction is to be studied,” Bittmann explained in a media release. “Introducing these variables can rather lead to a biased estimate.”
More discreetly, employment rate, income inequality, gender inequality, and life expectancy at birth all yielded prominent impacts on overall satisfaction.
The new report also factored in a country’s percent of internet users. Still, populations were happier in regions with access to healthcare and retirement benefit.
Age can have an correlative effect on the sociodemographic factors listed above but Bitmann rejects the inverse with rspect to any causal inferences.
The participants featured in the new ananysis that made an effort to address all of the adverse circumstances within their control constantly expressed the highest mental health scores.
“Classifying and explaining the causal and functional relationship between age and life satisfaction, especially in an international context, is still a major open question in demographics and happiness-research. Especially the debate whether to include sociodemographic control variables in these models has received much attention and deserves more discussion,” Nittmann wrote in the report.
The current contribution takes a cross-country perspective and attempts to sort countries into larger clusters, depending on their specific functional form. Using cross-sectional data from 81 countries with more than 170,000 respondents, the analyses demonstrate that there exist three larger clusters which display distinct functional relations (linear decline, U-shape, decline with a stable old-age period).”
Dr. Bittmann’s results were published in the Journal of Happiness Studies: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Subjective Well-Being.
As previosuly covered by Ladders, in the US, there appears to be a surge of happiness levels for middle-aged, college educated, married citizens.
Younger people tend to have lofty aspirations. Of course, these aspirations are only realized for a lucky few. Thus living in a constant state of unfulfilled dreams likely wears on disposition.Similarly, unhappy people don’t live as long as satisfied people generally speaking.
These two factors ensure those who live past middle age adjust their expectations considerably in service of a happier existence while those who do not succumb to correlative disorders.
Lastly, that particular report proposes a contrast effect that attends old age. The longer people livem the more tragedies they witness that makes them more grateful for the things they have.
“Individuals learn to adapt to their strengths and weaknesses, and in mid-life quell their infeasible aspirations. Second, it could be that cheerful people live systematically longer than the miserable and that the nadir in happiness in mid-life thus traces out in part a selection effect. A third is that a kind of comparison process is at work: I have seen school-friends die and come eventually to value my blessings during my remaining years,” the paper concluded.