Journal of Happiness Studies, 2008, vol. 9, 449-469, DOI 10.1007/s10902-006-9042-1
Is happiness good for your health? This common notion is tested in a synthetic analysis of 28 follow-up studies on happiness and longevity. It appears that happiness does not predict longevity in sick populations, but that it does predict longevity among healthy populations. So, happiness does not cure illness but it does protect against becoming ill. The effect of happiness on longevity in healthy populations is remarkably strong. The size of the effect is comparable to that of smoking or not.
If so, public health can also be promoted by policies that aim at greater happiness of a greater number. That can be done by strengthening individual life-abilities and by improving the livability of the social environment. Some policies are proposed. Both ways of promoting health through happiness require more research on conditions for happiness.
Keywords: happiness, life satisfaction, longevity, public health, research synthesis.