The U-Shape of Happiness in Scotland

38 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2020 Last revised: 26 Nov 2022

See all articles by David N.F. Bell

David N.F. Bell

University of Stirling - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

David G. Blanchflower

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Stirling - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 2020

Abstract

We examine well-being in Scotland using micro data from the Scottish Health Survey and the UK Annual Population Surveys. We find evidence of a midlife low in Scotland in well-being at around age fifty using a variety of measures of both happiness and unhappiness. We confirm that higher consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with higher levels of happiness in Scotland. We compare this with evidence for England from the Health Survey of England. The decline in well-being between youth and midlife is comparable in size to the loss of a spouse or of a job and around half of the fall in well-being in the COVID-19 lockdown. We also find a mid-life peak in suicides in Scotland. Despite higher mortality and suicide rates in Scotland than in England, paradoxically we find that the Scots are happier than the English. Northern Ireland is the happiest of the four home countries. We also find evidence of U-shapes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the mid to late forties.

Suggested Citation

Bell, David N.F. and Blanchflower, David G., The U-Shape of Happiness in Scotland (November 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w28144, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3739641

David N.F. Bell (Contact Author)

University of Stirling - Department of Economics ( email )

Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA
United Kingdom
+44 1786 467 486 (Phone)
+44 1786 467 469 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

David G. Blanchflower

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-646-2536 (Phone)
603-646-2122 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

University of Stirling - Department of Economics ( email )

Stirling, FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

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