Advertisement
Salesforce
Salesforce

Happiness by Numbers

Psychologists and economists identify key aspects in work and life to achieve optimal wellbeing.

By | October 9, 2012

Wikimedia Commons, ElectronNo other goal in life is so universally shared as happiness. Some say it comes from within; others claim to get it from their environments. Arguing that contentment depends at least to some extent on external factors like money and working hours, Wired has turned to science to pinpoint key quantities in life that help people maximize happiness.

First up is salary. Analyzing responses to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, both from Princeton University, reported that people with an annual household income of around $75,000 are about as happy as you can get. Those with incomes below that gave lower responses to both life evaluation and emotional wellbeing questions. And people who earn more than $75K per year didn't have commensurately higher levels of emotional wellbeing, though their life evaluation ratings did increase.

As for hours of work, 33 per week seem to be just right, according to Simon Luechinger, an economist at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland. “Life satisfaction increases with the number of weekly working hours up to about 33 hours and decreases afterwards,” he wrote in 2010 in the Journal of Human Resources.

One’s daily commute is also a key factor in staying happy, according to Swiss economists Alois Stutzer and Bruno Frey, who found that anything up to 20 minutes is ideal. Surprisingly, they also said that misery plateaus for any journey longer than 30 minutes. “Our main result indicates, however, that people with long journeys to and from work are systematically worse off and report significantly lower life satisfaction,” they wrote in the Journal of Scandinavian Economics.

And then there are kids. Multiple surveys have demonstrated that one child will make you happier than none. But happiness does not increase at the same rate with every further child. “The first child increases happiness a lot, the second less, and the third may decrease happiness,” wrote Mikko Myrskylä and Rachel Margolis, from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, in a working paper in February 2012.

Advertisement

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Comments

Avatar of: CharmingN

CharmingN

Posts: 1

October 17, 2012

I'm the marketing assistant for Robert Scheinfeld, a NY Times bestselling author who just wrote a new book on how to be happy.  It's called "The Ultimate Key To Happiness."  It offers a v-e-r-y different approach to defining what happiness really is, and a very different step-by-step path to experience it all the time, no matter what's going on around you.  The Internet has gotten so complex.  So many options.  Can anyone here share ideas for how to get the word out there about this important new book?  I'd love to hear your ideas.  I'm sure there are tons of ideas I've never thought of before. 

Follow The Scientist

icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-twitter icon-vimeo icon-youtube
Advertisement
Ingenuity
Ingenuity

Stay Connected with The Scientist

  • icon-facebook The Scientist Magazine
  • icon-facebook The Scientist Careers
  • icon-facebook Neuroscience Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Genetic Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Cell Culture Techniques
  • icon-facebook Microbiology and Immunology
  • icon-facebook Cancer Research and Technology
  • icon-facebook Stem Cell and Regenerative Science
Advertisement
Horizon Discovery
Horizon Discovery
Advertisement
NeuroScientistNews
NeuroScientistNews
Life Technologies