A healthy relationship is better than a pay rise

New study finds economic matters don't significantly impact people's life satisfaction...

Having a partner has a greater impact on a person's happiness than getting a pay rise, according to a new study from the London School of Economics (LSE).

It has found that relationship status and mental health are far more important than economic factors when it comes to happiness. The big factors were found to be how healthy an individual is and whether or not they have a partner. Less than 1% of the variance of life satisfaction was attributed to income inequality.

The study into the "origins of happiness" was based on several surveys of some 200,000 people from four countries including the US and Germany. Lord Richard Layard, who led the UK study, said that people have become no happier, on average, in the last half a century, despite the average income more than doubling. He also noted that "having a partner is as good for you as being made unemployed is bad for you."

The LSE found that being able to eliminate depression and anxiety would reduce misery by 20%, whereas eradicating poverty would only reduce people's misery by 5%.

According to the report, treating mental illness would come at no cost to the British taxpayer, as the economic benefits of lower unemployment, higher tax receipts and fewer GP and hospital visits would outweigh any expense. 

It states:

"Tackling depression and anxiety would be four times as effective as tackling poverty. It would also pay for itself...

"This evidence demands a new role for the state – not ‘wealth creation’ but 'wellbeing creation'. 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..."

It continued:

"The strongest factor predicting a happy adult life is not children’s qualifications but their emotional health. There is also powerful evidence that schools have a big impact on children’s emotional health, and which school a child goes to will affect their emotional wellbeing as much as it affects their exam performance."