LONDON — Turning 40 has long been a milestone met with mockery — it’s considered the age that people are “over the hill,” or officially past their prime years of life and entering middle-age. But perhaps we should take it easier on those entering their 40s, as a new study of United Kingdom residents finds people are most miserable in their 40s and 50s, and aren’t happiest until they’re 75.
Aviva, an insurance company in the UK, points to results from the UK’s Office of National Statistics annual well-being report. The report measures people on day-to-day happiness and anxiety, overall life satisfaction, and how worthwhile they feel starting at age 16. Participants are polled on each area using a scale of 1 to 10.
Researchers found that people are the least happy, least satisfied, and most anxious in their 40s and 50s. It’s a time referred to as “the sandwich years” because people are often struggling with the challenges of caring for their younger children and their older parents.
People reported being most happy from ages 65-79, followed by those ages 16-19.
When it came to overall life satisfaction, the teenage segment reported being most satisfied, followed by those 65-79. People 65 and older showed the lowest levels of anxiety.
So why are people so miserable in their 40s and 50s?
“Our analysis suggests it is an age of challenge. The sandwich generation are being squeezed by pressures from all sides,” says Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings & Retirement at Aviva, in a press release. “Our happiness will be shaped by various factors, many of which may be outside our direct control. However, we can take control of planning our finances for later life and this has the potential to boost our happiness.”
The results seem to match data released in Aviva’s “Voice of New Retirement” report released last March, which also showed at the time that people were the least happy in their 40s and 50s, and happiest after 65.