The Determinants of Happiness in Four Charts

A new paper by Milena Nikolova (Brookings Institution) and Carol Graham (University of Maryland) examines the relationships between well-being and a number of socio-demographic determinants, such as age, income, employment status, and retirement.  The study is based on Gallup World Poll data for several European countries and the United States.

Nikolova and Graham found positive correlations between age, marriage, income, and full employment, and happiness.  In addition, they discovered that
"voluntary part-time workers were happier, experienced less stress and anger, and had higher job satisfaction than other employees. We also found a "happiness premium" among older workers working full-time or voluntarily employed part-time. And late-life workers (i.e., those working past retirement age) working full-time or voluntarily employed part-time were typically happier and more satisfied with their health than their retired counterparts. The positive effects were greatest, meanwhile, in those countries where more flexible labor market arrangements were more common (and thus publicly acceptable)."

They conclude that their results "challenge the traditional model of full-time work and timely retirement, and suggest that flexible work arrangements (either full- or part-time) later in life may have significant well-being benefits."

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Frederique Laubepin

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