Jury's in: the midlife crisis is real

The study shows a steady downhill trajectory in wellbeing for most people from their late teens until their early 40s.

But it also shows why some people say life begins at 40, with a steady improvement from then on.

"We have identified a clear U-shape in human wellbeing," says lead researcher Dr Terence Cheng from the University of Melbourne.

The idea of a midlife crisis has been controversial, with academics finding flaws in several previous studies.

"But the jury's now in," says Dr Cheng. "People really do experience midlife crises."

The study, which looks at decades of data from people in Australia, Germany and Britain, has been published by the German-based Institute for the Study of Labor.

"Human happiness hits the lowest point around the ages of 40 to 42," says Dr Cheng, who worked with colleagues from the University of Warwick and the London School of Economics.

"What is interesting is the