Forbes magazine has just published several short pieces on happiness research. Nothing especially rigorous, but a pleasant enough read:
* Money Doesn't Make People Happy by Tim Harford
But marriage, sex, socializing and even middle age do.
* Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Sausage? by Daniel Gilbert
Money can't make you happy, but making the right comparisons can.
* Money, Happiness and the Pursuit of Both, by Elizabeth MacDonald.
When it comes money and happiness, economists and psychologists have got it all wrong.
* The Happiness Business by Paul Maidment.
There is more academic research than you can shake a Havana cigar at saying there is no correlation between wealth and happiness.
* There are also two pop-up slide shows you can access here.
Maidment notes happiness surveys which show...
that the British are moderately happy, though less so than most of their former colonies, such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, Ireland and the U.S. Sore losers, we suspect.
But I particularly liked Tim Harford's concluding advice:
Some results are predictable enough: Work is miserable, and commuting is worse. Others are not so obvious. For instance, praying is fun, but looking after the kids is not. Spending time with your friends is one of the most enjoyable things you can do, but spending time with your spouse is merely OK. In fact, parents or other relatives turn out to make more enjoyable company than the supposed love of your life.
What is perfectly clear, though, is that socializing with anyone except your boss makes you feel good. Sex is best of all. This is handy advice at last. But what if you are having sex with your boss? Whereof economists cannot speak, we must remain silent.
UPDATE: If you read Tim Harford's piece then you also ought to have a look at Arnold Kling's post - he finds the Forbes pieces "repetitive, pompous, and boring". But read also the comments under this post, and the debate over happiness research in subsequent posts on the EconLog blog.