Can money buy you happiness? It's a perennial question asked by exhausted shoppers and scientists, but new research has identified two other factors with greater influence on your life satisfaction than mere money.
It's mental health and having a partner which determine your happiness more than income, or even education, London School of Economics researchers have discovered.
In a new paper, The Origins of Happiness, experts will present the findings of the study which they believe helps explain a peculiar phenomenon that's been a sticking point over the years - happiness has not risen in countries such as Britain and the US, despite a huge increase in living standards.
"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. This demands a new role for the state – not ‘wealth creation’ but ‘wellbeing creation’," said Lord Layard, who will today present the research, done in collaboration with the Paris School of Economics, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The group calculates that eliminating anxiety and depression could reduce the nation's misery by 20 per cent, while addressing poverty could reduce it by a further five per cent, and is calling on more action from government in these matters.
"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," said Layard.