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After 25, life's ode to joy wavers

IT'S all downhill from the age of 25. Young people's happiness and satisfaction with life continues to grow throughout their teens and hits a peak when they make the transition from study to work. But by the mid-20s, the joy factor has taken a significant dip and continues heading south until the end of our working lives.

IT'S all downhill from the age of 25. Young people's happiness and satisfaction with life continues to grow throughout their teens and hits a peak when they make the transition from study to work. But by the mid-20s, the joy factor has taken a significant dip and continues heading south until the end of our working lives.

The findings are part of the latest government-funded Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth report, which measures the link between education, employment and wellbeing.

Data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) report was also incorporated to reach a conclusion most of us already suspected that our best years are behind us.

Almost 4000 people aged between 16 to 25 were asked to rate their satisfaction with life for the survey over the course of 11 years. Generally high levels of happiness with home and social life were reported while the participants were in their late teens and still living at home.

But after the first taste of independence had dulled in the early to mid-20s satisfaction levels decreased and responsibilities grew.

While all this may make depressing reading, there is some consolation in the HILDA report, which shows that life perks up around the age of 65, coinciding with retirement.

So is work to blame for this adult malaise? Thwarted career plans and unmet expectations coupled with mounting financial responsibilities have a lot to do with the 25-year-old tipping point, says Tom Karmel, the managing director of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, which manages the survey.

"There's evidence to show that those who did apprenticeships tended to be happier than those who went to university," he says.

"We don't know for certain why, but there's the hypothesis that by the mid-20s, a tradesperson is quite well established, but a university graduate is still at the bottom of the career pecking order. They might also have higher expectations and greater awareness and greater awareness doesn't necessarily equate to greater happiness."


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