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The Key Determinants of Happiness and Misery

Author

Listed:
  • Andrew E. Clark
  • Sarah Flèche
  • Richard Layard
  • Nattavudh Powdthavee
  • George Ward

Abstract

Understanding the key determinants of people's life satisfaction will suggest policies for how best to reduce misery and promote wellbeing. This paper provides evidence from survey data on USA, Australia, Britain and Indonesia, which indicate that the things that matter most are people's social relationships and their mental and physical health. These adult factors affecting happiness are influenced in turn by the pattern of child development: the best predictor of an adult's life satisfaction is their emotional health as a child. These results call for a new focus for public policy - not "wealth-creation" but "wellbeing-creation".

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew E. Clark & Sarah Flèche & Richard Layard & Nattavudh Powdthavee & George Ward, 2017. "The Key Determinants of Happiness and Misery," CEP Discussion Papers dp1485, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1485
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Richard Layard & Andrew E. Clark & Francesca Cornaglia & Nattavudh Powdthavee & James Vernoit, 2014. "What Predicts a Successful Life? A Life‐course Model of Well‐being," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(580), pages 720-738, November.
    2. Ward, George, 2015. "Is happiness a predictor of election results?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 61698, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
    4. George Ward, 2015. "Is Happiness a Predictor of Election Results?," CEP Discussion Papers dp1343, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Andrew E. Clark & Richard Layard & Claudia Senik, 2012. "The causes of happiness and misery," Post-Print halshs-00846583, HAL.
    6. Richard Layard & Andrew E. Clark & Cornaglia Francesca & Powdthavee Nattavudh, 2014. "What Predicts a Successful Life? A Life-course Model of Well-being," Post-Print halshs-01109062, HAL.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:ohe:monogr:002090 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ravallion, Martin, 2019. "Global inequality when unequal countries create unequal people," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 85-97.
    3. repec:eee:jeborg:v:158:y:2019:i:c:p:269-287 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:kap:jeczfn:v:124:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s00712-018-0595-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:jcecon:v:46:y:2018:i:3:p:683-707 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Strulik, Holger, 2019. "An economic theory of depression and its impact on health behavior and longevity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 269-287.
    7. Guriev, Sergei & Melnikov, Nikita, 2018. "Happiness convergence in transition countries," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 683-707.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    happiness; subjective wellbeing; life satisfaction; government; mental health;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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