Professor Richard Layard and his colleagues at the Wellbeing research programme at the London’s School of Economics’ centre for Economic performance, have reached a perhaps obvious but nonetheless important conclusion that…. having an emotionally healthy childhood is the key to happiness in later life. And furthermore, that being a happy child begets a happy satisfied adult.
Layard and his team analysed information gathered by the British Cohort Survey, a centre that has tracked the lives of over 9,000 respondents born in 1970. Since birth they have been asked to complete a questionnaire (quite a long one) every five to seven years which details everything about their current circumstances. Layard’s team broke down the information into areas such as income, education, employment, criminal records, marital status, physical health and finally their emotional health, which seems to be used interchangeably with either satisfaction or happiness. They correlated the most recent data with that gathered from their childhood, such as educational performance, socio-economic group and emotional health. The conclusion of all this data crunching was that money can’t buy you happiness or in their own words ‘income only explains about 1% of the variation in life satisfaction among people in the UK-one sixth of the fraction explained by emotional health.’ The report claims therefore that ‘money really can’t buy you happiness’. So what can? The report concludes that it is emotional health in childhood that is the most important predictor of adult life satisfaction and not the intellectual performance of a child.