MPIDR Working Paper

Happiness and sex difference in life expectancy

Kageyama, J.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2009-009, 26 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (March 2009)
Open Access


This paper examines the effects of happiness on the sex gap in life expectancy. Utilizing a cross-country data set, it first inspects the reverse effect of the life expectancy gap on happiness and demonstrates that the life expectancy gap negatively affects happiness through the composition of marital status. Taking this reverse causality into account, it shows that happiness is significant on explaining the differences in the life expectancy gap between countries. As national average happiness increases, the sex difference in life expectancy decreases. This is consistent with the findings that psychological stress (unhappiness)adversely affects survival and that the effect of psychological stress on mortality is more severe for men. This result provides an indirect evidence that happiness affects survival even at the national aggregate level.
Keywords: economic and social development, life expectancy
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.