Business School Topics
The puzzle of why higher education doesn't always lead to greater happiness has been solved by a new study from The University of Western Australia's Business School.
The UWA Business School's economist Inga Kristoffersen, who analysed data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, says while highly educated people experience benefits in income, wealth, hours worked and health, they also expect more of life.
"People with higher education enjoy better life circumstances: they are more likely to participate in the labour force, less likely to be unemployed, work more, earn higher incomes, own more wealth, report better health, and are marginally more likely to be partnered," Ms Kristoffersen said.
"However, people with higher education may also exhibit some cognitive bias, whereby they are modest in their evaluations of their lives.
"People with higher education expect more of life, and as their expectations are largely met they are no more or less satisfied with their lives than people with lower levels of education."
While higher education may not lead to greater levels of life satisfaction or subjective wellbeing, Ms Kristoffersen says it can improve a person's overall health and wellbeing.
"People with higher levels of education are less often nervous, sad and depressed and more often calm and happy," she said.
"The improvements in quality of life from higher levels of education are real, and they matter."
The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey is funded by the Australian government and managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.
Ms Kristoffersen presented her research on the education-happiness puzzle at the HILDA Survey Research Conference 2013.