If that sexy Porsche in your driveway isn’t proof enough that the midlife crisis is a very real thing, here comes a new study that shows most of us hit a low point when we arrive at middle age.
Researchers at Warwick University in England collected data from 50,000 adults using surveys from Britain, Germany, and Australia, which provided years of longitudinal data. In all three countries, respondents reported the lowest feelings of well-being in their 40s, which gradually picked up from there.
Previous studies have confirmed this “u-shaped” theory of well-being with mid-life as the valley, but the Warwick report is noteworthy because it’s the first time a longitudinal study, which tracks the same individuals over time, has looked at this issue.
While there is some debate about the midlife nadir, the Warwick report doesn’t suggest a reason for the phenomenon. Other studies have advanced the common-sense explanation that midlife is when we realize that many of our dreams and aspirations won’t actually come true. The Warwick researchers didn’t offer any new insights about what exactly causes the ends of our lives to be happier than the middle, though they did note one important thing: It didn’t look like children were a factor.