Does Higher Education Increase Hedonic and Eudaimonic Happiness?
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An increasing number of studies suggest that the relationship between higher education and subjective well-being (SWB) is either insignificant or negative. Most of these studies, however, use life satisfaction as a proxy for SWB. In this study, using longitudinal data from the Household Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia survey, I examine the link between higher education and three different measures of subjective well-being: life satisfaction and its different sub-domains (evaluative), positive and negative affect (hedonic), and engagement and purpose (eudaimonic). Three substantial results emerge: (1) people with higher education are more likely to report higher levels of eudaimonic and hedonic SWB, i.e., they view their lives as more meaningful and experience more positive emotions and less negative ones; (2) people with higher education are satisfied with most life domains (financial, employment opportunities, neighborhood, local community, children at home) but they report lower satisfaction with the amount of free time they have; (3) the positive effect of higher education is increasing, but at a decreasing rate; the SWB gains from obtaining a graduate degree are much lower (on the margin) compared to getting a college degree.
KeywordsSubjective Well-being Returns to education Panel estimation
JEL ClassificationI0 J24 I21 I31
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