City Research Online

The Midlife Crisis

Giuntella, O., McManus, S. ORCID: 0000-0003-2711-0819, Mujcic, R. , Oswald, A. J., Powdthavee, N. & Tohamy, A. (2022). The Midlife Crisis. Economica, 90(357), pp. 65-110. doi: 10.1111/ecca.12452

Abstract

This paper documents a longitudinal crisis of midlife among the inhabitants of rich nations. Yet middle-aged citizens in our datasets are close to their peak earnings, have typically experienced little or no illness, reside in some of the safest countries in the world, and live in the most prosperous era in human history. This is paradoxical and troubling. The finding is consistent, however, with the prediction—one little-known to economists—of Elliott Jaques (1965). Our analysis does not rest on elementary cross-sectional analysis. Instead, the paper uses panel and through-time data on, in total, approximately 500,000 individuals. It checks that the key results are not due to cohort effects. Nor do we rely on simple life satisfaction measures. The paper shows that there are approximately quadratic hill-shaped patterns in data on midlife suicide, sleeping problems, alcohol dependence, concentration difficulties, memory problems, intense job strain, disabling headaches, suicidal feelings, and extreme depression. We believe that the seriousness of this societal problem has not been grasped by the affluent world's policy-makers.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors. Economica published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of London School of Economics and Political Science. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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