Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happiness is as happiness does

According to the latest UMR survey, the happiest men in the country are in the Nelson/Marlborough region, and the happiest women come from the Bay of Plenty. Wellingtonians, however, are the least happy people in the country.

Interestingly, people on less than $20,000 a year are slightly happier than those earning between $70,000 and $100,00. People earning over $100,000 are the happiest of the lot. People in the middle income brackets ($30-70,000), however, are the least happy. (Which probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise: they'll be the ones trying to bring up a family, pay off a mortgage and so on.)

Wellington.Scoop reports: The key things that make people happy are their relationships with their family and friends and their job. For women, the relationship with their family and children is a far more significant factor in their happiness than it is for men. However, for men their relationship with their spouse or partner, control over their life or destiny, recreation time and hobbies are more important than they are for women.

UMR finds that people are less happy than they were when the previous survey was done in 2007/8, and that overall, females are happier than males. People in mid-life are less happy than the young or old (which is hardly a revelation - who has all the responsibility?!), and ethnically, Maori and Europeans were the happiest groups, with Asians the least happy. (However, with a large number of people classifying themselves as 'other,' ethnically, this area of the survey is somewhat skewed.)

Another not-surprising point: widow(ers) and married people were happier than single and divorced, though there might be a certain irony in the fact that widowers were little happier than widows, and married women were a little happier than married men. Curiously women in de facto relationships were happier than men in the same boat. Which seems almost at odds with how people in these relationships are generally viewed.

People living without children are happier than those living with children. At first this seems a point that doesn't bode well for our future, until you realise that it's the lack of dependent children that makes people happier.

And just to prove that we're a quirky lot: Labour voters are happier than National voters. Go figure.

UMR comes to this conclusion: If you want to keep happy through the recession – socialise, keep in close touch with family or friends, have an interest in sports, a hobby or the arts and feel good about yourself.

Where would we fit in, as a Church, on the happiness scale?

Photo by Jill Greenseth from 'Four Happy People'

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