Finding love makes you happier than a pay rise, study finds
Jane Austen famously wrote that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. Her words, as ever, have proved ahead of her time, as a new study reveals having a partner has a greater impact on happiness than getting a pay rise.
Finding love and enjoying good mental health are by far the most important keys to a happy life, a study by the London School of Economics has found.
Both factors were found to be more significant contributors to an individual’s overall contentment than economic factors, including doubling one’s salary, according to analysis by the LSE.
The study was based on several international surveys which asked 200,000 people around the globe to determine how different factors had an impact on their wellbeing.
The investigation found that doubling a person’s income raised their happiness by under 0.2 points, on a scale of 0-10.
It suggested individuals care largely about their income relative to other people, so general increases in income have very small impacts on the overall happiness of the people.
Conversely, unemployment reduces the happiness of each unemployed person by about 0.7 points on average, further creating “fear and unease among those in work” and affecting the whole community.
People need to be needed, and to be in meaningful relationships.”
London School of Economics study
Mental health is the biggest single predictor of individual happiness. The study found suffering from depression or anxiety disorders is more common than unemployment and it also reduces happiness by 0.7 points.
Having a partner also raises happiness by 0.6 points, and losing a partner by separation or death reduces happiness by a roughly equal amount, the study found.
“People need to be needed, and to be in meaningful relationships,” authors said.
The findings, researchers suggests could go on influence how governments treat their voters, with a shift in emphasis likely to produce better outcomes for happiness.
“Happiness is hugely affected by the ethos of a society, which affects everyone in it,” the report found. “For example, happiness is higher in societies where people trust each other. If those who trust others rises from 0 per cent to 100 per cent, happiness rises by 1 whole point.
“Freedom is also a crucial determinant of happiness. So no-one who favours happiness should favour a totalitarian state.”
Richard Layard, co-author of the report, said: “’The evidence shows that the things that matter most for our happiness and for our misery are our social relationships and our mental and physical health.
“This demands a new role for the state — not ‘wealth creation’ but ‘wellbeing creation’. In the past, the state has successively taken on poverty, unemployment, education and physical health. But equally important now are domestic violence, alcoholism, depression and anxiety conditions, alienated youth, exam-mania and much else. These should become centre stage.”