A discussion was triggered by an item in the Christmas issue of the Economist. It is the custom of the journal to interlace its normal content with essays on a wide variety of topics. Last Christmas this included an essay pointing the remarkable fact that human happiness appears to change through life in the same way irrespective of race, country, culture or gender.

Happiness descends from a medium level in the young adult reaching a trough in the forties and then rises throughout the rest of life. There is a final slight downturn in extreme old age although the absolute level remains well above middle life. The international average for the age at which the low point in happiness occurs is 46.

At least one member felt this corresponded with her life experience relating that the freedom to pass an afternoon in undisturbed reading was very satisfactory.

Comment was made that there is great interest in happiness research in policy making circles. In one Asian country they are given to talk not of Gross National Product but Gross National Happiness


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