Just getting better with age: self-esteem peaks at 60, according to science

If you’re in your 60’s and feel like your confidence is at its highest, you’d be right. 

Our sense of self-worth only hits its peak when we reach this decade – and stays there for the full 10 years, according to a new paper published in the journal Psychological Bulletin. 

Drawing on nearly 200 previously published studies on self-esteem – and data from around 165,000 people – the researchers found self-esteem starts to go up between the ages of four and 11 as children develop their social and cognitive skills and start to get some independence (and realise that your parents aren’t always right). 

These levels then seem to plateau from the ages of 11 to 15 (gotta love those awkward teen years) before increasing rapidly up to the age of 30 and then more gradually up to a high around 60. 

The swinging 60’s  

So why is 60 the magic number? 

The team behind the study says that it’s usually the age that people are investing in their social roles – whether at work, in their relationships with a partner or spouse or with helping their children “become responsible and independent adults” (in short, kicking them out of the nest). 

It makes sense to us. All of my family and friends in our 60’s have spent the time figuring ourselves out – we know what we want and we just don’t care what others think. 

Self-esteem does take a hit after the age of 70 – which the researchers put down to factors that can have negative changes such as retirement, health issues or the loss of a spouse. 

But with most people able to maintain their sense of self-worth well into old age, they say it’s all a matter of attitude. 

That, and wearing whatever the hell you want.




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A special thanks to our contributors

Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the Villages.com.au and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, villages.com.au and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.