By analysing 8 million books and 65 million newspaper articles, researchers have created the first-ever “index of national happiness” going back to 1820.

  • Money helps: Increases in national income do generate increases in national happiness but it takes a huge rise to have a noticeable effect at the national level.
  • Longer lives matter: An increase in longevity of 1 year had the same effect on happiness as a 4.3% increase in GDP.
  • War is costly: One less year of war had the equivalent effect on happiness of a 30% rise in GDP.

There are low moments: In post-war UK, the worst period for national happiness occurred around the appropriately named “Winter of Discontent.” In post-war USA the lowest point of the index coincides with the Vietnam War and the evacuation of Saigon.

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Original author: Sheila Kiggins