Money contributes to happiness, but health is considered more important

In 2004 almost nine in ten Dutch men and women aged 18 years and older reported to be happy or very happy. The higher the spendable household income the happier people are, but income is not the most important factor. Other factors like health, marital status and ethnic background appear to be more crucial.

Health top priority

Health is by far the most important factor, when all relevant socio-economic and demographic factors are compared. One quarter of people who report to be less healthy, lack positive feelings of happiness, whereas the rate for (very) healthy people is only 8 percent.

Shared sorrow is half sorrow

People living alone are less happy than those who live with a partner. Widows and widowers feel four times as often less happy as their married or cohabiting counterparts. Among divorced people, the rate of less happy persons is three times higher than among married or cohabiting couples; the rate among people who have never been married is two times higher.
Surveys conducted elsewhere prove that persons who live together are happier, because they can share life’s joys and sorrows.

People who are not so happy by marital status and ethnic background

People who are not so happy by marital status and ethnic background

Non-western foreigners usually less happy

Western foreigners feel slightly less happy than native Dutch. Non-western foreigners feel twice as often depressed as their native Dutch counterparts.

People who are not so happy by income bracket 
People who are not so happy by income bracket

Lowest income brackets least happy

A good income contributes to happiness, but is not the decisive factor. Income only comes in fourth place, after health, marital status and ethnic background. Among the lowest household incomes, 16 percent indicate to be not so happy. As income increases, negative feelings evaporate. Only 10 percent of high household incomes report to feel not so happy.

Gender, age and education not so important

If dissimilarities in health, marital status, ethnic background and income are taken into account, there appear to be no disparities between men and women. Age and education level are not important factors either. Initially, happiness increases marginally with education level, but it becomes less relevant as people grow older.

Ferdy Otten