Putting a price on happiness
Press release issued: 27 January 2003
Health is our most valuable asset, according to new research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, today.
The journal, edited by the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Bristol, includes an innovative study that estimates the equivalent monetary cost of various life events such as marriage, divorce and widowhood.
The study, conducted by Professor Andrew Oswald and Andrew Clark of the University of Warwick, found that:
- Marriage brings the same amount of happiness as £70,000 income per year
- Widowhood brings a degree of unhappiness that would take additional income of £170,000 per year to offset
- Separation would take an additional income of £132,000 to offset
- A major decline in health is equivalent to a loss of £½million a year
The authors found that the factor most strongly related to happiness and well-being is health. They also found that unemployment is extremely psychologically costly, over and above the direct loss of the pay packet.
Professor Shah Ebrahim, co-Editor of the International Journal of Epidemiology said: "Happiness is of concern to all of us, and Oswald's paper breaks new ground in examining its determinants. The International Journal of Epidemiology aims to promote novel work of this nature that is accessible and of relevance to a wide readership."
A simple statistical method for measuring how life events affect happiness by Andrew E Clark and Andrew J Oswald Int. J. Epidemiol. 2002 31: 1139-1144.