Find­ing love makes you hap­pier than a pay rise, study finds

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SCIENCE - By HAN­NAH FUR­NESS

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.”

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