Economists David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald calculated the “compensation value” of life events like employment and marriage by surveying 100,000 Americans and Britons from the 1970s to the 1990s.In terms of happiness, they found that marriage was worth an impressive $100,000 annually:
To ‘compensate’ for a major life event such as being widowed or a marital separation, it would be necessary — this calculation should be treated cautiously but it illustrates the size of the coefficients — to provide an individual with approximately $100,000 extra per annum. Viewing widowhood as an exogenous event, and so a kind of natural experiment, this number may be thought of as the ‘value’ of marriage.
Meanwhile the psychological value of employment is worth $60,000 annually.
New York Times columnist David Brooks mentioned this study in his new book, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement. But he went a step further:
People vastly overvalue work, money, and real estate. They vastly undervalue intimate bonds and the importance of arduous challenges. The average Americans say that if they could make only $90,000 more a year, they could “fulfil all their dreams.” But evidence suggests they are wrong. The deeper the relationships a person has, the happier he or she will be. People in long-term marriages are much happier than people who aren’t.
So find someone, and choose wisely.