Now is an enjoyable time to be a senior. Older Americans are among the happiest people in the world, coming in 10th on Gallup’s worldwide happiness rankings.  That compares to a 62nd rank for younger citizens. Researchers have long pointed out that old age is better than most may think. This might be surprising to readers, but a recent study helps clarify the issue.

The study indicated that psychological well-being plays out over a lifetime in a U-curve. Happiness usually starts high in youth, drops during the stresses of middle age, and picks back up after around age 55. The younger end of the curve is changing in America, as younger people are showing higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide but the upswing after seniors continues.

One reason is that older people are, overall, doing better financially. According to a Bloomberg report, seniors hold 30% of the country’s wealth. Retirees also get a form of universal basic income, via Social Security, which is adjusted for inflation. Further, nearly 80% of adults age 65 and over own their homes and that means they were better protected from inflation.

Also, seniors reported having more social support and were less lonely than the young, even though they had fewer social connections. Seniors were more likely to answer “yes” when Gallup asked if they have a friend, they can call on in a time of need than younger respondents. Social bonds have been shown to be a key factor in happiness.

It is important to note that the Gallup poll was conducted from 2021 -2023. This was a time when younger respondents were still emerging from the isolation of the pandemic, and many were not able to go to school in-person. So hopefully the younger respondents will soon return to higher ratings of their happiness. That said, it is still pretty encouraging to see that being a senior, with the right financial plans and social support, can be a happy period of life. Here is hoping it certainly is for you.

 

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