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Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study

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  • David G. Blanchflower
  • Andrew J. Oswald

Abstract

This paper studies the links between income, sexual behavior and reported happiness. It uses recent data on a random sample of 16,000 adult Americans. The paper finds that sexual activity enters strongly positively in happiness equations. Greater income does not buy more sex, nor more sexual partners. The typical American has sexual intercourse 2-3 times a month. Married people have more sex than those who are single, divorced, widowed or separated. Sexual activity appears to have greater effects on the happiness of highly educated people than those with low levels of education. The happiness-maximizing number of sexual partners in the previous year is calculated to be 1. Highly educated females tend to have fewer sexual partners. Homosexuality has no statistically significant effect on happiness. Our conclusions are based on pooled cross-section equations in which it is not possible to correct for the endogeneity of sexual activity. The statistical results should be treated cautiously.

Suggested Citation

  • David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2004. "Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study," NBER Working Papers 10499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10499 Note: HE LE
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    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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