Health & Wellness

Life Gets Happier After 47

Dissatisfaction in life tends to peak at 47, says one economist

Photo: iStock/andresr.

One economist claims to have discovered the average age of “peak misery” in middle-age, and it seems to be 47, a claim that lends support to the idea of a midlife crisis.

David Blanchflower, a professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, came up with the number after analysing 109 data points across 37 developed nations and 95 developing nations. His findings in a paper published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research.

Blanchflower measured dissatisfaction in life by looking at pain, phobias, feelings of despair, loneliness, stress levels, and the extent of people’s sleeping problems, among other considerations. That information was pulled from self-reported surveys of well-being around the globe.

Interestingly, the average age of “misery” was nearly the same regardless of whether people were from a developed country or not. Those from developed countries saw their misery peak at 47.2, while those from developing countries saw it peak at 48.2. After that age, however, satisfaction in life tends to curve upwards, a pattern Blanchflower terms the “happiness curve.”

“The curve’s trajectory holds true in countries where the median wage is high and where it is not, and where people tend to live longer and where they don’t,” Blanchflower wrote in the paper.

“The happiness curve is everywhere,” he says, noting that he found it regardless of whether he was controlling for education levels, marital status, or job status, suggesting that it really is your age that determines your sense of well-being.

“If you’re in a midlife crisis, just understand that lots of other people are as well,” he told CTV News. “Eventually it will get better.”