Will we be happier with age?

Most of us would want to be happy in our older years and in fact, throughout our lives.  Published research from the Centre for the Study of Living Standards (http://www.csls.ca/notes/Note2012-3.pdf) looked at data from 2003 and 2011.  Canadians are a pretty happy bunch with 9 out of 10 reporting a fairly high level of happiness.  It’s interesting to examine what happens to happiness with age.

The youngest group measured, ages 12 to 19, were also the happiest.  They scored 96.9% in comparison to the lowest score from the age 65 and older group of 89.1%.  That’s a 7.8% gap between groups which is significant.  According to the study, this gap has widened between 2003 and 2011.

“In 2003, the proportion of persons aged 12 to 19 who were satisfied or very satisfied was only 2 percentage points higher than for persons 65 and over (4.0 per cent versus 92.0 percent). By 2011 the gap had jumped to 7.8 percentage points.  With the growing importance of persons 65 and over in the population, the absolute decline in life satisfaction among seniors represents an important emerging public policy issue.”  (1)

Why is this generational gap occurring?

The Global Financial Crisis attributed to a sense of vulnerability in older age groups.  They are dependent on fixed incomes and pension plans.  The risk of companies closing quickly was never so obvious as it was with the loss of huge financial organizations such as Lehmon Brothers.  Even though this occurred in the U.S. the ripple effect on Canadians was disconcerting to say the least.  Too big to fail no longer mattered!

Changes are needed to the survey analysis

The generational gap may be less if the age 65 and over group is segmented.  The data used for this research is from the Canadians Community Health Survey (CCHS).  The CCHS data could be analyzed in segments that provide greater sensitivity to the differences between ages 65 and 74 and 75+.  If this analysis was rerun it is likely that the age 75+ would show less of a decline in happiness than would the earlier retirees (age 65-74) who are more concerned about the length of time their retirement savings will last.





1-Executive Summary, p2