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The causes of happiness and misery

Author

Listed:
  • Andrew E. Clark

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres, IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - IZA)

  • Richard Layard

    (LSE - London School of Economics and Political Science)

  • Claudia Senik

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres, UP4 - Université Paris-Sorbonne)

Abstract

Chapter 3 discusses the causes of happiness and misery, based on 30 years of research on the topic. Both external and personal features determine well-being. Some of the important external factors include income, work, community and governance, and values and religion. More "personal" factors include mental and physical health, family experience, education, gender, and age. Many of these factors have a two-way interaction with happiness – physical health may improve happiness, while happiness improves physical health. An analysis of all these factors strikingly shows that while absolute income is important in poor countries, in richer countries comparative income is probably the most important. Many other variables have a more powerful effect on happiness, including social trust, quality of work, and freedom of choice and political participation.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew E. Clark & Richard Layard & Claudia Senik, 2012. "The causes of happiness and misery," PSE-Ecole d'économie de Paris (Postprint) halshs-00846583, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseptp:halshs-00846583
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00846583
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    Cited by:

    1. D'Ambrosio, Conchita & Clark, Andrew E. & Barazzetta, Marta, 2018. "Unfairness at work: Well-being and quits," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 307-316.
    2. Binder, Martin & Buenstorf, Guido, 2018. "Smile or die: Can subjective well-being increase survival in the face of substantive health impairments?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 209-227.
    3. Binder, Martin & Blankenberg, Ann-Kathrin & Guardiola, Jorge, 2020. "Does it have to be a sacrifice? Different notions of the good life, pro-environmental behavior and their heterogeneous impact on well-being," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 167(C).
    4. Nattavudh Powdthavee & Anke C. Plagnol & Paul Frijters & Andrew E. Clark, 2019. "Who Got the Brexit Blues? The Effect of Brexit on Subjective Wellbeing in the UK," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 86(343), pages 471-494, July.
    5. 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.
    6. Binder, Martin & Blankenberg, Ann-Kathrin, 2017. "Green lifestyles and subjective well-being: More about self-image than actual behavior?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 304-323.
    7. Esa Karonen & Mikko Niemelä, 2020. "Life Course Perspective on Economic Shocks and Income Inequality Through Age‐Period‐Cohort Analysis: Evidence From Finland," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 66(2), pages 287-310, June.
    8. C. O. Henriques & L. A. Lopez-Agudo & O. D. Marcenaro-Gutierrez & M. Luque, 2021. "Reaching Compromises in Workers’ Life Satisfaction: A Multiobjective Interval Programming Approach," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 207-239, January.
    9. Hinks, Timothy, 2020. "Bribery, motivations for bribery and life satisfaction in transitional countries," World Development Perspectives, Elsevier, vol. 17(C).
    10. Andrew E. Clark & Sarah Flèche & Nick Powdthavee & George Ward, 2017. "The key determinants of happiness and misery," Post-Print halshs-01513376, HAL.
    11. Azim F Shariff & Lara B Aknin, 2014. "The Emotional Toll of Hell: Cross-National and Experimental Evidence for the Negative Well-Being Effects of Hell Beliefs," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(1), pages 1-8, January.
    12. Hideyuki Mizobuchi, 2017. "Measuring Socio-economic Factors and Sensitivity of Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 463-504, April.
    13. Alex Bryson & George MacKerron, 2017. "Are You Happy While You Work?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(599), pages 106-125, February.
    14. Mike Pennock, 2016. "Slower Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being in the Canadian Context: A Discussion Paper," CSLS Research Reports 2016-09, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    15. Andrew E. Clark & Akiko Kamesaka & Teruyuki Tamura, 2015. "Rising aspirations dampen satisfaction," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(5), pages 515-531, October.
    16. O'Connor, Kelsey J. & Graham, Carol, 2019. "Longer, more optimistic, lives: Historic optimism and life expectancy in the United States," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 374-392.
    17. Conzo, Pierluigi & Aassve, Arnstein & Fuochi, Giulia & Mencarini, Letizia, 2017. "The cultural foundations of happiness," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 268-283.
    18. 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.
    19. Rok Spruk & Aleskandar Kešeljević, 2016. "Institutional Origins of Subjective Well-Being: Estimating the Effects of Economic Freedom on National Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 659-712, April.
    20. Martin Binder & Alex Coad, 2016. "How Satisfied are the Self-Employed? A Life Domain View," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 1409-1433, August.
    21. Binder, Martin & Blankenberg, Ann-Kathrin, 2016. "Environmental concerns, volunteering and subjective well-being: Antecedents and outcomes of environmental activism in Germany," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 1-16.
    22. Ioana CIORBAGIU, 2021. "Influences and spatial effects on subjective well-being," Theoretical and Applied Economics, Asociatia Generala a Economistilor din Romania - AGER, vol. 0(1(626), S), pages 23-42, Spring.
    23. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Plagnol, Anke C. & Frijters, Paul & Clark, Andrew E., 2017. "Who Got the Brexit Blues? Using a Quasi-Experiment to Show the Effect of Brexit on Subjective Wellbeing in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 11206, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    24. Rocío Moreno-Sánchez & Vanesa Martínez & Jorge H. Maldonado & Arturo Rodríguez, 2018. "Changes in subjective well-being, aspirations and expectations in participants of poverty alleviation programs: A qualitative analysis of Produciendo Por Mi Futuro in Colombia," Documentos CEDE 015987, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
    25. Welsch, Heinz & Binder, Martin & Blankenberg, Ann-Kathrin, 2021. "Green behavior, green self-image, and subjective well-being: Separating affective and cognitive relationships," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 179(C).

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    Keywords

    Happiness; Causes;

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