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Generations Z and Y are those with the least well-being

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Generation Z and millennials (Y) have less well-being than previous generations, according to a study published in August 2022 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry. (What are generations, X, Y, Z, millennials, alpha…?)

While studies to date have focused on mental health, the present has focused more broadly on well-being.

Psychologist Tyler VanderWeele of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and his team (1) used data from a nationally representative sample of American adults to examine well-being in many domains by age groups. Data was collected in January 2022.

Participants responded to the “Thriving Index” questionnaire, a validated test that assesses 6 areas of well-being:

  1. happiness and satisfaction in life;
  2. health, both mental and physical;
  3. meaning and goals;
  4. character strengths and virtues;
  5. close social relationships;
  6. resources and financial stability.

Take this 12-question test on Psychomedia

Of the 8618 people contacted, 2598 (30.1%) provided complete responses.

Well-being increased steadily with age for each of the well-being domains assessed.

Between the youngest (18-25 years old) and the oldest (≥77 years old) group, the differences were as follows on a scale of 0 to 10:

  • overall well-being: 1.84 points;
  • feeling that their life has meaning: 2.08 points;
  • happiness: 1.99 points;
  • health (1.93 points);
  • social relations: 1.91 points;
  • financial stability: 1.83 points;
  • character strengths: 1.28 points.

These results contrast with those which show, since the beginning of the 2000s, U-shaped curves for certain domains of well-being (for example, happiness and life satisfaction), these being higher at the beginning. adulthood and later than midlife, the researchers point out.

They are consistent with data that suggests a mental health crisis and rising loneliness in the United States that disproportionately affects young adults.

For more information, see the links below.

(1) Ying Chen, Richard G. Cowden, Jeffery Fulks, John F. Plake.

Psychomedia with sources: JAMA Psychiatry, The Harvard Gazette.
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