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Journal Article

How's life at home? New evidence on marriage and the set point for happiness

Authors

Publication date

19 Dec 2017

Summary

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.

Published in

Journal of Happiness Studies

DOI

https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10902-017-9941-3

ISSN

16

Subjects

Family Formation And Dissolution, Well Being, Life Course Analysis, and Sociology

Notes

Open Access; Online Early


Related publications

  1. How's life at home? New evidence on marriage and the set point for happiness

    Shawn Grover and John F. Helliwell

    1. Family Formation And Dissolution
    2. Well Being
    3. Life Course Analysis
    4. Sociology

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