Based on survey data from over 200,000 respondents in Australia, Britain, Germany, and the U.S., researchers determined how much various factors affect life satisfaction. The factors included economic measures, like income and employment status, health factors related to physical and emotional well-being, and partner status.
The big takeaway: being partnered affects happiness more than any other factor except mental health.
“The partial correlation coefficient on income is 0.09, which means that less than 1% of the variance of life satisfaction is explained by income inequality,” researchers write. By contrast, the partial correlation coefficient on being partnered in a happy relationship is 0.11.
Well-Being Creation Instead of Wealth Creation
Professor Richard Layard, a co-author of the research, told the BBC that this shows that countries need to shift their focus to “well-being creation” instead of “wealth creation.”
“The evidence shows that the things that matter most for our happiness and for our misery are our social relationships and our mental and physical health,” he told the BBC. “In the past, the state has successively taken on poverty, unemployment, education and physical health. But equally important now are domestic violence, alcoholism, depression and anxiety conditions, alienated youth, exam-mania and much else. These should become centre stage.”
What Does This Mean for You?
It certainly does not mean that you should accept the status quo, in regard to your salary. Nor does this research suggest that work has no impact on our happiness. Unemployment, for example, had a strong negative effect on respondents’ life satisfaction, as you might expect.
One way to look at this research is as a reminder that we should be working to live, not living to work.
“Making little choices every day to put your relationship first, along with your physical and mental health, is what will ultimately bring you joy,” writes Charlotte Hilton Andersen at Shape. “You don’t need to give up your dream job for a man but make sure you step away from the computer from time to time too.”
In short, when you’re contemplating a new job, make sure you take into account all the things that go into creating a successful career and life. Ask for the salary you deserve, negotiate for benefits that will make it easier to balance life and work — and pay attention to corporate culture. If it seems like you’re never going to be able to leave the office and get back to your life, all the money in the world won’t make a difference to your personal happiness.
h/t: The Telegraph
Tell Us What You Think
Do these findings resonate with you, or would you rather have the cash, thanks? Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.