Using large nationally representative longitudinal data on changes in happiness and mortality and multivariate increment–decrement life tables, we assess length of quality life through cohort estimates of happy life expectancies. We examine population-based and status-based life expectancies in absolute term of years and relative term of proportions. We find that happy life expectancies exceed unhappy life expectancies in both absolute and relative terms for the overall population and population in each state of happiness at any given age. Being happy (as opposed to unhappy) at any age brings a longer life and more of the future life spent in happiness. We also examine social differentials in the estimates of happy life expectancy at each age by sex, race, and education. The educational gap in happy life expectancies is larger than the sex and race gaps. For the better educated, longer life consists of a longer happy life and shorter unhappy life in both years and proportions and regardless of happy or unhappy status at any given age.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 2, 2009
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