Recently, Jan van Ours, Professor of Applied Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, wrote a column in the journal Gerōn on the relationship between ageing and mental health. Do people become unhappier with age?
Young people often have a positive self-image about the future: a great partner, good job and a large group of friends. However, unfulfilled expectations such as a failed relationship can put a dent in that image, although people have accepted those around the age of 50. Van Ours studied how their mental well-being develops after that.
Taking into account major events such as divorce or sudden unemployment, there is a non-linear relationship between ageing and mental health. Initially, mental health increases with age, but that relationship reverses at older ages. On average, men reach their maximum mental health at 75. For women, it is around age seventy-seven, according to the professor. There does seem to be an increase in loneliness in men around age 80, but it is not clear whether that is a permanent phenomenon or a fluctuation.