According to a new study, marriage makes people happier and more satisfied with their lives.
Canadian researchers collected data from the UK’s Annual Population Survey, the British Household Panel Survey and a global Gallup poll.
Authors Shawn Grover, from the Canadian Department of Finance, and John Helliwell, from the Vancouver School of Economics, took happiness levels prior to marriage into account for their research.
They found that even when you take into account pre-marriage life satisfaction, being married made people happier. However, this finding does not appear to be universal. Researchers found that in Latin America, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, this was not the case.
The findings appear to contradict what some social scientists have claimed: that people have a natural level of happiness which they return to after spells of heightened joy or sadness.
According to the research, which was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the positive effects of marriage outlast the honeymoon phase. It also contradicts a previous study, which claimed that marital happiness begins to decline immediately without ever fully recovering.
Grover and Helliwell also suggested that being best friends with your spouse may be the key to marital satisfaction in the long run. Their research indicates that for such couples, “well-being benefits of marriage are on average about twice as large” as those who do not consider their spouse to be their best friend.
In 2013, research from the Office for National Statistics suggested that marriage had a more positive impact on people’s happiness than money.