These two factors — being in a meaningful relationship and good mental health — were found to be more significant contributors to an individual’s overall contentment than economic factors, including doubling one’s salary, Telegraph.co.uk reported.
“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,” study co-author Richard Layard was quoted as saying.
The findings were based on responses from 2,00,000 persons around the globe on what factors impacted their well-being.
On a scale of 0-10, the study found that doubling a person’s salary raised their happiness by under 0.2 points, while having a partner raised happiness by 0.6 points.
Losing a partner — either due to separation or death — reduces happiness by a roughly equal amount, the study found.
“People need to be needed, and to be in meaningful relationships,” the study said.
Suffering from depression or anxiety disorders reduces happiness by 0.7 points, making mental health the biggest single predictor of individual happiness, according to the study.
The researchers believe that knowing what affects happiness the most can have major implications for policy makers.
The findings are scheduled to be presented at a conference on well-being at the London School of Economics co-organised with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other leading institutions.