On the Nines

According to a new study, most people are likely to experience life crises and make momentous life decisions at the ages of 29, 39, 49, and 59, regardless of country or culture.

These decisions can include running a marathon, seeking extramarital affairs, or even committing suicide. Because these ages mark entry into the next decade of life, say researchers, they inspire greater self-reflection and search for meaning than others.

The study was authored by Adam Alter of New York University Stern School of Business and Hal Hershfield of UCLA Anderson School of Management. “As we age,” the authors write, “it’s good to understand this propensity so we’re more likely to make constructive rather than destructive choices.”

“People search for meaning when they approach a new decade in chronological age” was published online November 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.