Space & Innovation

50 Is the New 20

New research finds that people over 50 are happier than their younger counterparts.

There's a lot to look forward to about getting older. Retirement, grandkids and having more time to travel are just a few. Now researchers know that our sense of well being also benefits.

By the age of 50, people report feeling less stress, anger and worry and a lot more happiness.

Close to half a million Americans participated in a 2008 Gallup poll asking them to rate their happiness, stress levels and amount of worry. Arthur Stone and his colleagues at Stony Brook University analyzed the results. Their findings appear today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It turns out that people over 50 - regardless of gender, being employed, having a partner or having children at home - reported being much happier overall than younger generations. Men and women over 50 were less angry, worried and stressed, although women tended to be a little more sad than men overall.

Researchers analyzed responses from more than 340,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 85. Some interesting trends emerged: stress and anger steeply declined after the 20s, and worry increased in middle age and then dropped off after 50.

Sadness was essentially flat, researchers said.

The researchers wrote that studying "hedonic well-being," or a person's emotional state, could change the way we view aging. Previous studies have tended to focus on a person's overall cognitive well-being. This study was unique in that it recorded negative emotional indicators like stress and worry rather than solely positive ones.

Image from Flickr.