The the Lancet study used four years of data from the Gallup World Poll in more than 160 countries covering more than 98% of the world's population to make their evaluations. The authors found life satisfaction followed a predictable trajectory depending on where people lived.
In countries such as the UK, Australia and the US, life satisfaction followed the shape of a smile, dipping to a low in midlife.
A professor from the University College London, along with his colleagues formed part of the study. They said the reasons behind the trends were multiple and complex, but there were some plausible explanations as well as important lessons to be learned.
A growing burden of chronic disease and diminished wellbeing affecting the quality of life of older people in many countries.
Besides physical health and pain, they considered three measures of wellbeing:
evaluative - how satisfied people were with their lives
hedonic - feelings or moods such as happiness, sadness and anger
eudemonic - judgements about the meaning and purpose of life
In Western world nations, life satisfaction bottomed out between the ages of 45 and 54 before rising again. Likely due to economics, this is the period at which wage rates typically peak and is the best time to work and earn the most, even at the expense of present quality of life, so as to save for later life.
I did this too. While earning a good wage until I retired at 62, I remodeled my home and saved for the future.
However, in transition countries, such as the former Soviet Union, life satisfaction declined steadily with age, which could be linked to their economical position. Older people in these countries lost a system which gave meaning to their lives, and, in some cases, their pensions and their health care.
In sub-Saharan Africa, satisfaction was very low throughout life, while stress and worry was high.
In the meantime, we must continue in the circumstances we find ourselves in. According to the study, while money does not equate to happiness, economic progress promotes wellbeing to an extent.
For my husband and I, now in our mid seventies, debt cases constant worry. We can't earn the money to settle our obligations and the future looks dim. On the other hand, we've grown closer and understand each other more. Therefore, we've worked out the meaning of our lives: to love each other.
How about you?