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Social Services News- February 2015

News Just In! Older Adults are the Happiest of All Americans!

We all know the stereotype – seniors are crotchety, falling apart, and whether it’s about the price of milk or ‘those kids today’, they are always complaining.  In a recent write up, USA Today cited several research studies that show that not only is this stereotype untrue, but seniors are in fact the happiest of all Americans!


One of the most significant research projects was undertaken by University of Chicago sociologists who, between 1972 and 2004, conducted around 28,000 in-person interviews with people ranging in age from 18 years old to 88 years of age. The results were fascinating. Throughout the 34-year course of the study, the happiness level reported over all seemed to rise and fall in tandem with good and bad economic conditions. However, regardless of the economic climate, older adults always polled as the happiest of all. The study revealed that generally there is a 5% increase in the odds of being happy with each 10 years of age.


The study also showed that disparities in happiness between people of different ethnic backgrounds and financial means tended to even out as people aged. Thirty three percent of those aged 88 reported that they were ‘very happy’, compared with just 24% of those aged between 18 and their early 20’s.


Yang Yang, the author of this study pointed towards the correlation between happiness and being socially active. Similarly, another University of Chicago study again challenged stereotypes of older people as being isolated, suggesting instead that those in their 80’s are twice as likely as those in their 50’s to participate in a social activities such as socialize with a neighbor, attend a religious service, volunteer, or go to a group meeting.

What these two research studies really show us is that we hold great misconceptions about the golden years and what may be in store for us as we age. 

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