Stuff I'm reading

Stuff I'm reading in the mags, books and the blogosphere.

What’s behind midlife malaise? The Happiness U-Curve. And an ageist culture.

 Last month the Atlantic magazine’s cover story described living past 75 as pretty darn inadvisableNow, in quite the about-face, the December cover story champions the Happiness U-Curve (or “U-shaped Happiness Curve," as I’ve been calling it, or “U-bend” in Britspeak): : the growing body of research showing, in writer Jonathan Rausch’s words, that “we reliably grow happier, regardless of circumstances, after our 40s.”

 Happiness U-Curve_DecAtlantic.png

Caption: An analysis by the Brookings scholars Carol Graham and Milena Nikolova, drawing on Gallup polls, shows a clear relationship between age and well-being in the United States. Respondents rated their life satisfaction relative to the “best possible life” for them, with 0 being worst and 10 being best.

 

The NY Times prints my letter about elder care

In the New York Times on January 20: "In her cogent look at the link between gender and poverty (“How Can We Help Men? By Helping Women,” Opinion, Jan. 12), Stephanie Coontz calls for prioritizing affordable child care. Decent, reliable elder care is just as important. Women perform the vast majority of this unpaid labor as well, and the age of the person requiring care should be irrelevant."

a welcome ally in the “age-acceptance" movement

I suspected that I might find a kindred spirit in Anne Karpf, and her excellent article in the Guardian about why we shouldn't fear getting old confirms it. Karpf writes of the turning point in our twenties when disdain for those younger than us turns to disregard for our elders, and the consequent body dysmorphia, “propelled at least partly by a fear of ageing, [that] has become a cultural condition.” So many adolescents are getting Botox injections that there’s a name for it: “teen toxing!”

Forward-looking policies, not big GDPs, make countries good to grow old in.

 

The Global AgeWatch Index ranks countries by how well their ageing populations are faring. Unsurprisingly, Sweden tops the 2013 index and Afghanistan ranks lowest. (The US is #8.) The size of the national economy isn’t a reliable predictor. Older Sri Lankans, for example, fare better than their Pakistani peers despite GDPs of similar size, because the Sri Lankan government invested early on in education and healthcare.

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