BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
The old saying “money can’t buy happiness,” may actually be true. A new study reveals that having a loving partner has a much better impact on happiness than doubling your income.
In the study, conducted by the London School of Economics, the researchers examined responses from 200,000 surveyed people from around the world. The surveys asked how different factors impacted a person’s overall wellbeing.
Unsurprisingly, good mental health and having a loving partner had the strongest impact on a person’s happiness level.
The answers revealed that having a loving partner had the most positive impact, by raising a person’s happiness by 0.6 points, on a scale of 0-10. This had a much better impact than a person’s income doubling, which only increased their happiness level by 0.2 points. Researchers clarified that the increase of happiness with a higher income came down to people caring more about how their incomes compared to other people’s than how it actually affected them. This implies that if increases in income aren’t being compared in a social situation, they generally have small impacts in happiness.
“People need to be needed, and to be in meaningful relationships,” the authors wrote in the report. The authors suggested that the results should influence how governments treat their citizens by focusing on different elements in society to produce higher happiness levels.
“Happiness is hugely affected by the ethos of a society, which affects everyone in it,” the report said. “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.”
In contrast, the biggest negative effect on wellbeing was caused by depression and anxiety, which decreased levels by 0.7 on the scale. Unemployment also had the same negative effect on wellbeing. Additionally, losing a partner by separation or death decreased happiness levels by 0.6.
According to BBC, co-author of the study, Professor Richard Layard, said the findings demanded “a new role from the state,” as the results proved that social relationships and mental and physical health are most important for happiness, as opposed to material items. This means that the state needs to play a role in citizens’ happiness by focusing on “wellbeing creation” rather than “wealth creation.”
“In the past, the state has successively taken on poverty, unemployment, education and physical health,” Layard said. “But equally important now are domestic violence, alcoholism, depression and anxiety conditions, alienated youth, exam-mania and much else. These should come centre stage.”
According to Huffington Post, the study will be further discussed at a conference on wellbeing at the London School of Economics.