In case you’re wondering, older adults are more likely to be happy than younger adults, according to a study out of the University of Chicago. Other research reveals that older adults appear better able to contain and accept negative emotions such as anger and anxiety, causing them to be happier. Indeed, researchers are finding that while people are living longer, their quality of life remains as good as it was when we lived shorter lives.
The Chicago study finds happiness gaps between many different groups of people that narrow or disappear altogether with age. Baby boomers are the least happy cohort of Americans; men are less happy than women; African Americans are less happy than whites. But, by their late 80s, more than 50 percent of African American men and women consider themselves to be very happy, only a slightly higher percentage than white men and women.
To arrive at their findings, researchers asked a cross-section of between 1,500 and 3,000 people each year since 1972 the following question: “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days-would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?”
To learn more about how cultural changes have led to longer and happier lives for older adults, watch this TEDx talk by Laura Carstensen.