Marriage and prayer are among some of the key factors in people's happiness, a new study commissioned by the UK Government has found. The research, carried out by an economics professor at London's Imperial College, found that people in stable relationships and people who prayed were more content than their fellow citizens.
The report has been sent to ministers and senior civil servants as part of an ongoing effort to examine how to government can improve people's happiness. Commissioned by the Department of the Environment, the study is part of an ongoing review by the Whitehall Wellbeing Working Group, a group of civil servants who are reviewing worldwide research concerning happiness and the impact of government action on it.
However, the author of the report, Professor Paul Dolan of the Imperial College , London, suggested that politicians might prove cautious as regards the policy implications of the findings. "It's shown that married people are happier-so what does that mean for politics?" Professor Dolan asked. "Does it follow that we should be encouraging people to marry?" Professor Dolan's next task is to draw up a "happiness unit" to reliably measure wellbeing.
The news comes as happiness moves steadily on to the political agenda. David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party, who has already put family at the heart of his party's agenda said last year that happiness should be at the heart of Government policy. “We have to remember what makes people happy, as well as what makes stock markets rise. It’s time we focused not just on GDP, but on GWB — general wellbeing.”
The Department of Health in the UK, as well as the Departments of the Environment and Culture are studying the report to find ways to promote wellbeing.