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CEP discussion paper
The key determinants of happiness and misery
Andrew E. Clark, Sarah Flèche, Richard Layard, Nattavudh Powdthavee and George Ward June 2017
Paper No' CEPDP1485:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: I31; I10

Tags: happiness; subjective wellbeing; life satisfaction; government; mental health

Understanding the key determinants of people’s life satisfaction will suggest policies for how best to reduce misery and promote wellbeing. This paper provides evidence from survey data on USA, Australia, Britain and Indonesia, which indicate that the things that matter most are people’s social relationships and their mental and physical health. These adult factors affecting happiness are influenced in turn by the pattern of child development: the best predictor of an adult’s life satisfaction is their emotional health as a child. These results call for a new focus for public policy – not “wealth-creation” but “wellbeing-creation”.