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Life Satisfaction Increases With Age Only In Some Places: Study

Update Date: Nov 06, 2014 11:04 AM EST

Life satisfaction dips around middle age and rises in older age in high-income, English -speaking countries, but that is not a universal pattern, says a new report which is a part on a special series of aging. 

In contrast, residents of other regions-such as the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa-grow increasingly less satisfied as they age, the study found. 

"Economic theory can predict a dip in well-being among the middle age in high-income, English-speaking countries," said co-author Angus Deaton, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Wilson School, in the press release. "What is interesting is that this pattern is not universal. Other regions, like the former Soviet Union, have been affected by the collapse of communism and other systems. Such events have affected the elderly who have lost a system that, however imperfect, gave meaning to their lives, and, in some cases, their pensions and health care."

Researchers also found a two-way connection between physical health and well-being: poorer health leads to lower ratings of life satisfaction among the elderly, but higher life satisfaction seems to stave off physical health declines. 

"Our findings suggest that health care systems should be concerned not only with illness and disability among the elderly but their psychological states as well," Deaton added. 

The report was published in the journal The Lancet

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