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Happiness and longevity

A recent article in the September issue of the Journal of Happiness Studies, by Ruut Veenhoven of Erasmus University Rotterdam, shows that happiness is a causal factor in longevity: happy people live longer. The study also found that this is not the case for seriously ill people: being happy and chronically ill doesn?t lengthen life. The authors conclude that happiness protects people against falling ill and increases life span.

To assess causality the authors looked at 30 studies which measured happiness and which undertook long term follow ups.  They also chose only to include studies which controlled for health - as health has such a large impact on longevity.  The result were that being happy had a similar effect on life span as not smoking.

The authors suggest that the findings have implications for public policy: for policies which promote happiness.  While the evidence does suggest that happiness has many beneficial effects, how we go about increasing happiness is another matter.  Happiness is best worked for indirectly, it is a mood which is contingent on other things and should not be boosted directly.  This means that any policy which places happiness at the heart must take this into account.    To read the article click here


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