Using Taiwan’s PSFD data and within-between panel data models, this study investigated the relation between marriage and happiness. It did not find a selection effect, indicating that there is no statistical evidence that married people were happier two or more years before getting married. There was a honeymoon effect during the marriage year. Several samples were constructed to investigate whether happiness level quickly returned to the baseline after marriage. The results of most samples showed that the happiness levels were significantly higher than the baseline within 3 years of marriage. Although the happiness level after the fourth year of marriage is not significant, its magnitude is not small, indicating a diversity of happiness status after 3 years of marriage. Marriage, on average, enhances happiness more and longer for women than for men.
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Lucas et al. (2003) stressed that the happiness quick return to the baseline after marriage is the average trend, and there is a great diversity among individuals.
Musick and Bumpass (2012) did not intend to investigate the issue of adaptation, but their findings do not espouse full adaptation.
Although Fig. 2 in Stutzer and Frey (2006) showed that satisfaction with life after marriage declined to the level of five years before marriage, they did not see this result as support of full adaptation. They stated (pp. 11–12): “Whether this adaptation is truly hedonic, or whether married people start using a different scaling for what they consider a satisfying life (satisfaction treadmill), is difficult to assess,” and “Given the strong pattern in the age-life satisfaction profile, conclusions about full adaptation or that there is no marriage effect, however, are difficult to draw”.
Gullop World Poll Questions: Did you experience happiness during a lot of the day yesterday? World Value Survey: Taking all things together, would you say you are: 1. Very happy; 2. Quite happy; 3. Not very happy; 4. Not at all happy. National Survey of Families and Households: Taking all things together, would you say you are: 1 = Very unhappy to 7 = very happy.
In contrast to studies cited in this study using longitudinal data sets, Easterlin (2003) used a cohort study to argue that there is no selection effect. He noted that marriage rate dramatically rises from late teens to their late 20 s, and that the happiness level also rises during the same part of lifespan. If there is a selection effect, then the average happiness of the singles left in the same cohorts should decline. But it did not decline.
According to Taiwan Social Development Trend Survey (2002), 83.94% unmarried adults live with their parents. Of unmarried adults who did not live with their parents, most of them migrated to metropolitan areas for a job. This survey discontinued after 2002, but today the majority of unmarried Taiwanese adults still live with their parents.
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The author thanks Chen-Ling Yeh for her excellent assistance with the data collection and analyses. Financial support from Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology is acknowledged. Award Number: MOST 106-2410-H-031-003.
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Tao, HL. Marriage and Happiness: Evidence from Taiwan. J Happiness Stud 20, 1843–1861 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-018-0029-5
- Set-point hypothesis
- Full adaptation
- Partial adaptation