The saying “money can’t buy you happiness” may really be true.
Having a loving relationship and good mental health have a larger impact on our happiness than money, new research suggests.
According to researchers at the London School of Economics, eliminating mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety from the population would reduce unhappiness by 20%.
In contrast, eliminating poverty would only cut unhappiness by 5%.
To draw their conclusions, the researchers analysed data from previous surveys involving 200,000 people around the world.
They looked at answers revealing which factors had the highest impact on an individual’s wellbeing
The study found that having a loving partner raised a person’s happiness by 0.6 points, on a scale of 0-10.
In contrast, it found that doubling a person’s income only increased their happiness level by around 0.2 points.
Among participants, those who suffered from depression or anxiety were found to have reduced happiness rates of 0.7 points.
The researchers found that unemployment also reduced happiness by 0.7 points, but noted that losing your job is less common than having a mental health condition.
“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,” co-Richard Layard, Emeritus Professor of Economics at LSE said, according to The Telegraph.
He called for governments to reevaluate their priorities based on the findings saying: “This 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.”
The findings will be discussed at a conference on wellbeing at the London School of Economics on 12 and 13 December.