Happy Days

Key findings include from the index include:

  • Money helps: Increases in national income do generate increases in national happiness but it takes a huge rise to have a noticeable effect at the national level.
  • Longer lives matter: An increase in longevity of 1 year had the same effect on happiness as a 4.3% increase in GDP.
  • War is costly: One less year of war had the equivalent effect on happiness of a 30% rise in GDP.

There are low moments: In post-war UK, the worst period for national happiness occurred around the appropriately named “Winter of Discontent.” In post-war USA the lowest point of the index coincides with the Vietnam War and the evacuation of Saigon.

“What’s remarkable is that national subjective well-being is incredibly resilient to wars,” says coauthor Thomas Hills, professor at the University of Warwick and the Alan Turing Institute.

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