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How’s Life at Home? New Evidence on Marriage and the Set Point for Happiness

Shawn Grover () and John Helliwell
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Shawn Grover: Vancouver School of Economics

Journal of Happiness Studies, 2019, vol. 20, issue 2, No 3, 373-390

Abstract: Abstract Subjective well-being research has often found that marriage is positively correlated with well-being. Some have argued that this correlation may be result of happier people being more likely to marry. Others have presented evidence suggesting that the well-being benefits of marriage are short-lasting. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey, we control individual pre-marital well-being levels and find that the married are still more satisfied, suggesting a causal effect at all stages of the marriage, from pre-nuptual bliss to marriages of long-duration. Using new data from the United Kingdom’s Annual Population Survey, we find that the married have a less deep U-shape in life satisfaction across age groups than do the unmarried, indicating that marriage may help ease the causes of the mid-life dip in life satisfaction and that the benefits of marriage are unlikely to be short-lived. We explore friendship as a mechanism which could help explain a causal relationship between marriage and life satisfaction, and find that well-being effects of marriage are about twice as large for those whose spouse is also their best friend.

Keywords: Marriage; Happiness set point; U-shape; Life satisfaction; Marriage and friendship (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Working Paper: How's Life at Home? New Evidence on Marriage and the Set Point for Happiness (2014) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1007/s10902-017-9941-3

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