Longevity issues have become an important social concern, since recent studies show that there is no upper limit for human lifespans. However, we could not obtain the unified conclusion as to whether happiness depends on age or not. There are many economic and sociological studies which follow Easterlin’s findings of a U-shape in happiness over one's life. On the other hand, psychologists insist that there is no midlife dip in well-being and that life-satisfaction will increase in accordance with age. That supports the theory of gerotranscendence. Using selected nations data from SHARE (Survey of Health Aging and Retirement in Europe), this study examines the relationship between happiness and longevity. Systematic comparisons controlling for social economic status such as sex, age, education, labor participation, income, health condition and friends/acquaintances show that the positive effects of age on happiness disappear when factors related to social relationships such as social isolation are controlled for. The results suggest that longevity does not in itself make us happier. As aging societies accelerate, those determining social welfare policy will face important and potentially difficult choices about how to care for elderly people.
Yuko Nozaki, Sugiyama Jyogakuen University, Japan