Over-90s happier than middle-aged men

The burden of responsibility bears down harder on some people than others. Picture: PA
The burden of responsibility bears down harder on some people than others. Picture: PA

Middle-aged men are the least happy of UK residents, with even the over-90s reporting better life satisfaction and happiness, an Office for National Statistics (ONS) study has found.

In that 40 to 59 age bracket, men are less satisfied than women, with many struggling with the “double responsibility” of caring for children and parents.

Personal wellbeing data was collected over the three years from 2012 to 2015.from more than 300,000 adults in the UK and analysed by experts. Their analysis found that those aged 65 to 79 reported the highest average levels of personal wellbeing, while those aged 40 to 59 least happy and suffering anxiety.

The survey looked at various measures of wellbeing, including happiness and anxiety, whether respondents felt that their life activities were worthwhile, and general life satisfaction,.

But the report found that people in the UK are reasonably content with their lives overall, with people aged 70 to 74 having the highest level of life satisfaction - followed closely by those aged 65 to 69 and teenagers aged 16 to 19.

And although people aged 75 to 79 also reported high levels of satisfaction with life, this declined as they got older. Meanwhile, those aged 50 to 54 had the lowest levels of life satisfaction, while those aged 40 to 59 were generally the least satisfied among the age groups.

Happiness followed a similar pattern, with people aged 65 to 74 the happiest and teenagers aged 16 to 19 also reporting good levels of happiness.

Those aged 50 to 54 were the least happy while those aged 40 to 59 generally reported low levels of happiness.

Over the age of 75, happiness levels declined, even given those aged over 90 were still happier than people in middle age. When it came to feelings of what you do being worthwhile, older people over 85 had the lowest scores while those aged 60 to 75 had the highest – and significantly higher than in middle age.

People aged 40 to 59 were also considerably more anxious than other groups (with those aged 50 to 54 the most anxious group), while those over 90 were the least anxious.

ONS director of measuring national wellbeing Glenn Everett said the data showed that wellbeing falls after people reach the age of 75.

He added: “The low wellbeing in middle-age might also suggest that those in this age group are struggling with the double responsibility of caring for children and for elderly parents.”

The report said younger people and those who are retired may have more free time to spend on activities which promote their wellbeing.

“In contrast, those in their middle years may have more demands placed on their time and might struggle to balance work and family commitments. Evidence shows that people are having children later. Therefore, another possible reason for lower scores for the middle-age groups could result from the burden caused by having to care for both parents and children at the same time.”