International happiness map

International happiness map

Being content with our financial situation can lead to greater levels of happiness as we get older in life, a new study has found.

Researchers claim over 50s who reported high levels of financial satisfaction were much more likely to assert they were happier in other aspects of their day-to-day living.

But despite high levels of happiness and financial satisfaction those over 50 who were single, divorced or separated were constantly less fulfilled.

They found that those who were single in the over 50 age group were almost twice as likely to report financial dissatisfaction as those who were married.

Higher levels of unhappiness were also experienced by those who were divorced or separated, compared to those who were widowed.

Being unemployed or uneducated was also found to have a profound effect on older people’s contentment and financial satisfaction.

The study has raised serious concerns among those who campaign for the growing older population.

Many state the research stressed the growing problems of loneliness experienced by older people across the UK.

David Sinclair, Assistant Director, Policy and Communications at International Longevity Centre (ILC) UK said: “This research highlights that living together is good for us in old age.

“Yet in the UK and across many other countries we are witnessing a loneliness epidemic, as divorce and/or death of a partner results in too many people living without companionship.

“Older people in the UK must have greater access to a range of housing options to reduce the risk of them living alone with no support.”

The international study looked at 56 countries across the globe and found that 55 per cent of older people reported being satisfied with their household’s financial situation.

Despite this, they revealed statistics varied dramatically depending on where the individual lived, and their personal circumstances.

The World Values Survey looked at the political and socio-cultural change in the more than 50 countries which took part.

In the top ten list compiled by the ILC, Great Britain came in at number 7 for financial satisfaction – with over 80 per cent reporting fulfilment – while it measured as number 10 for happiness.


New Zealand and Sweden were the “cheeriest” nations, with 97 per cent claiming to be happy, while 87 per cent of Swiss residents reported to be the most satisfied with their finances.

Former communist states dominated the bottom rankings – Moldova proved to be the unhappiest nation where just 33 per cent claimed to be satisfied.


France, Germany and the United States all trail Great Britain when it comes to financial satisfaction, with around two thirds of the Europeans reporting satisfaction.

A similar percentage was also given by older Americans.

But, while the analysis revealed older people became happier the more content they were with their financial situation, it also showed that money did not buy happiness for the oldest age groups.

Although many became more financially satisfied as they aged, the research showed they also became sadder.

Unhappy chappies

The over 80s had twice the odds of reporting unhappiness than those aged 50 to 54.

But despite the strong correlation between increasing age and decreasing overall happiness internationally the relationship did not hold true in all of the individual countries.

Those over-50s who saw themselves as lower-class were also revealed to have almost three times the odds of being unhappy,
and were five times more likely to be dissatisfied with their financial situation.

Under scrutiny

David Hayes, Research Associate, Personal Finance Research Centre, and author of the research, said: “This snapshot of the relationship between happiness and financial satisfaction comes at a time when personal finances in the UK are under intense scrutiny.

“With increasing housing and fuel costs disproportionately affecting the over 50s the realisation that Great Britain is not faring too badly in an international context may be of some reassurance to policy makers and politicians.”