Skip to content

The happiness index

You may have grown up hearing that your schooldays were likely to be the best days of your life, but research suggests that we’re actually at our happiest after the age of 70.

According to biologist and author Lewis Wolpert, we reach a peak of happiness in our 80s, which means that for many of us, the best is yet to come.

'What emerges is that people in their teens and 20s tend to be averagely happy but this declines steadily until early middle age,' says Professor Wolpert. 'But from the mid-40s, people tend to become ever more cheerful, perhaps reaching a maximum in their late 70s or 80s.'

Try our top 5 tips for boosting your mood

Research certainly backs this up. A study of 341,000 people by the National Academy of Sciences in America showed that enjoyment of life tends to decline throughout early adulthood, rising again from the late 40s or early 50s to reach a maximum around the age of 85.

What’s more, in 2012, a new report from the Office for National Statistics revealed the UK’s ‘happiness index’ for the first time - and found that teenagers and those above retirement age are the most likely to be satisfied with their lives.

'It certainly seems that we get happier post-60, even if age is starting to impact upon our health,' agrees psychologist Susan Quilliam. 'Clearly, there will be exceptions - particularly for people for whom life has dealt some cruel blows - but, in general, this can be a very positive time.'

Further information


Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

You can download other guides in our series from publications

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174

This page was last updated:

Was this helpful?