In America, being black used to be associated with lower levels of happiness—though the most recent figures suggest that being black or Hispanic is nowadays associated with greater happiness.People with children in the house are less happy than those without.“We ran a conference about it, but nobody came.” Since then, interest in the U-bend has been growing.
Which suggests either that women are more likely to experience more extreme emotions, or that a few women are more miserable than men, while most are more cheerful.
Two personality traits shine through the complexity of economists' regression analyses: neuroticism and extroversion.
There are already a lot of data on the subject collected by, for instance, America's General Social Survey, Eurobarometer and Gallup. One concerns people's assessment of their lives, and the other how they feel at any particular time.
The first goes along the lines of: thinking about your life as a whole, how do you feel?
More educated people are happier, but that effect disappears once income is controlled for.
Education, in other words, seems to make people happy because it makes them richer.Conventional economics uses money as a proxy for utility—the dismal way in which the discipline talks about happiness.But some economists, unconvinced that there is a direct relationship between money and well-being, have decided to go to the nub of the matter and measure happiness itself.This personality trait may help explain some cross-cultural differences: a study comparing similar groups of British, Chinese and Japanese people found that the British were, on average, both more extrovert and happier than the Chinese and Japanese. All sorts of things in people's lives, such as relationships, education, income and health, shape the way they feel.Being married gives people a considerable uplift, but not as big as the gloom that springs from being unemployed.Studies following people over many years have shown that neuroticism is a stable personality trait and a good predictor of levels of happiness.