The years people spend in school do change the way they feel but hardly make them feel happier

by Ruut Veenhoven and Peter Bakker
Erasmus University Rotterdam, Department of Sociology, Working Paper December 1975

This article deals with the belief that a high school education results in a happier and fuller life. This
idea is commonly expressed by the educationalists and gains support in several empirical studies
though not in all. A secondary analysis of a survey study among 1.534 people aged 16 - 60 in the
Netherlands reveals a small but significant relationship between the level of education and several
indicators of psychological well being. Yet when controlled for age, sex, SES and social mobility this
relationship appears to hold only for middle aged males and for people who experienced downward
social mobility. Rather than making people feel happier, increased schooling seems to make people
derive their satisfactions from other aspects of life. The higher the level of education, the lower is the
association between avowed happiness and reported satisfaction with daily pursuits, satisfaction with
the level of living, satisfaction with health and several other domain satisfactions.

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