Well-being is a term of abstraction for most, yet the state of well-being is considered a reflection of happiness and health throughout life. Understanding and measuring the domains of well-being at different ages is a starting point to developing effective means of improving the well-being of a population. This large-scale study used Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® (GHWBI) data collected from 375,334 Americans to assess the affect of age on well-being by comparing three age groups: young (18−43 years), mid-life (44−64 years), and senior (≥65 years). The well-being composite scores of these groups showed that overall well-being is lowest during the mid-life years and higher during the younger and senior age periods, thus resembling an U-shaped distribution but with well-being reaching its highest level during the senior years. Of the six measured well-being domains, emotional health, healthy behavior, work environment, and basic access scores demonstrated improvement with age. In contrast, life evaluation and physical health domains declined with age. These differential trends among the well-being domains help to clarify the mixed results of previous well-being studies by revealing that the underlying components of well-being are not uniform in their changes over time. The findings reported here indicate that programs aimed at improving well-being should be individualized because the factors that enhance or detract from well-being vary over the course of a lifetime.
Outcomes and Insights in Health Management is a Healthways publication that covers scientific research that was elected to not be submitted for peer review.