Two times more rise than decline since the 1970s

Ruut Veenhoven
In: Sheldon, K. & Lucas, R. (Eds.) Stability of Happiness: Theories and Evidence on Whether Happiness Can Change, Elsevier, 2014, ISBN: 978-0-12-411478-4, Chapter 9, pp. 167-200

Several theories of happiness hold that happiness will not change in the long run. This claim was tested using the time trend data available in the World Database of Happiness. Series of responses on identical survey questions on happiness were selected with intervals of at least 10 years between them, altogether 199 time series in 67 nations and 1,531 data points. Average happiness in a nation rose in 133 of these series and declined in 66. The ratio of 2.0 is statistically significant. The average yearly rise in happiness on a scale 0–10 is +0.016. At this growth rate, happiness will rise by about 1 point on this scale in 70 years.

Keywords: happiness, life satisfaction, social progress, trend analysis, research synthesis

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