Adults happiness on the decline

Friday, Nov 6, 2015,16:51 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Washington | Despite having more material comforts, people in their 30s may not be as happy as their parents at the same age, according to a new study that also found teens and young adults are happier than ever.

Researchers from San Diego State University, Florida Atlantic University and University of California, Riverside in US analysed data from four nationally representative samples of 1.3 million Americans ages 13 to 96 taken from 1972 to 2014.

They found that after 2010, the age advantage for happiness found in prior research vanished. There is no longer a positive correlation between age and happiness among adults, and adults older than 30 are no longer significantly happier than those ages 18 to 29.

Our current culture of pervasive technology, attention-seeking, and fleeting relationships is exciting and stimulating for teens and young adults, but may not provide the stability and sense of community that mature adults require, said Jean M Twenge, professor at San Diego State University, who led the study.

Data showed that 38 per cent of adults older than 30 said they were very happy in the early 1970s, which shrunk to 32 per cent in the 2010s. Twenty-eight per cent of adults ages 18 to 29 said they were very happy in the early 1970s, versus 30 per cent in the 2010s.

Over the same time, teens’ happiness increased 19 per cent of 12th graders said they were very happy in the late 1970s, versus 23 per cent in the 2010s. American culture has increasingly emphasised high expectations and following your dreams – things that feel good when you’re young, Twenge said.

However, the average mature adult has realised that their dreams might not be fulfilled, and less happiness is the inevitable result, Twenge said.

Mature adults in previous eras might not have expected so much, but expectations are now so high they can’t be met, she said. That drop in happiness occurred for both men and women, said Twenge.