MPIDR Working Paper
Happiness and sex difference in life expectancy
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2009-009, 26 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (March 2009)
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