Does Happiness Pays? A Longitudinal Family Life Survey

  • Sujarwoto SujarwotoEmail author


Most of the research on happiness has documented that income, marriage, employment and health affect happiness. Very few studies examine whether happiness itself affect income, marriage, employment and health. This study does so, benefiting from data drawn from the panel longitudinal Indonesian Family Life Survey (IFLS) 2007 and 2014. The survey includes 23,776 individuals from 15,067 households living in about 262 neighborhoods between 2007 and 2014. The findings show that happier Indonesians in 2007 earned more money, were more likely to be married, were less likely to be divorced or unemployed, and were in better health when the survey was conducted again seven years later. Policy makers may consider that increasing citizen happiness is vital to achieve citizen success on labor markets, to improve their job performance and to maintain their health.


Happiness Positive cognitive bias Income Indonesia 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declare that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The use of the dataset for this study was approved by the ethical committee at the University of Brawijaya Indonesia.


  1. Akita, T., & Miyata, S. (2018). Spatial inequalities in Indonesia, 1996–2010: A hierarchical decomposition analysis. Social Indicators Research, 138(3), 829–852.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersson, P. (2008). Happiness and health: Well-being among the self-employed. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 37(1), 213–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andresen, E. M., Malmgren, J. A., Carter, W. B., & Patrick, D. L. (1994). Screening for depression in well older adults: Evaluation of a short form of the CES-D. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 10(2), 77–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Argyle, M. (1997). Is happiness a cause of health? Psychology and Health, 12(6), 769–781.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Argyle, M. (2003). Causes and correlates of happiness. In Kahneman et al., (Eds.), Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology. New York USA: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  6. Ball, R., & Chernova, K. (2008). Absolute income, relative income, and happiness. Social Indicators Research, 88(3), 497–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boehm, J. K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). Does happiness promote career success? Journal of Career Assessment, 16(1), 101–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bowen, J. R. (1986). On the political construction of tradition: Gotong Royong in Indonesia. The Journal of Asian Studies, 45(3), 545–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. BPS. (2017). Regional economic development in Indonesia. Jakarta Indonesia: BPS.Google Scholar
  10. Carr, A. (2013). Positive psychology: The science of happiness and human strengths: London UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Cheng, H., & Furnham, A. (2003). Personality, self-esteem, and demographic predictions of happiness and depression. Personality and Individual Differences, 34(6), 921–942.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clark, A. E., Frijters, P., & Shields, M. A. (2006). Income and happiness: Evidence, explanations and economic implications. Paris: Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques.Google Scholar
  13. Cohn, M. A., Fredrickson, B. L., Brown, S. L., Mikels, J. A., & Conway, A. M. (2009). Happiness unpacked: Positive emotions increase life satisfaction by building resilience. Emotion, 9(3), 361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Compton, W. C., & Hoffman, E. (2019). Positive psychology: The science of happiness and flourishing. Bellmonth California USA: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  15. Dabla-Norris, M. E., Kochhar, M. K., Suphaphiphat, M. N., Ricka, M. F., & Tsounta, E. (2015). Causes and consequences of income inequality: A global perspective: New York USA: International Monetary Fund.Google Scholar
  16. De Neve, J.-E., & Oswald, A. J. (2012). Estimating the influence of life satisfaction and positive affect on later income using sibling fixed effects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(49), 19953–19958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Deaton, A., & Zaidi, S. (2002). Guidelines for constructing consumption aggregates for welfare analysis (Vol. 135). Washington DC USA: World Bank Publications.Google Scholar
  18. Duesenberry, J. S. (1949). Income, saving, and the theory of consumer behavior. Cambridge USA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Easterlin, R. A. (2001). Income and happiness: Towards a unified theory. The Economic Journal, 111(473), 465–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Freedom House. (2009). Freedom in the world 2009. Washington USA: Freedom House.Google Scholar
  21. Frey, B. S. (2008). Happiness: A revolution in economics. Boston USA: MIT press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Frey, B. S., & Stutzer, A. (2002). What can economists learn from happiness research? Journal of Economic Literature, 40(2), 402–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Frey, B. S., & Stutzer, A. (2010). Happiness and economics: How the economy and institutions affect human well-being: Princeton USA: Princeton University press.Google Scholar
  24. Graham, C. (2008). Happiness and health: Lessons—And questions—For public policy. Health Affairs, 27(1), 72–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Graham, C. (2012). Happiness around the world: The paradox of happy peasants and miserable millionaires. Oxford UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Graham, C., Eggers, A., & Sukhtankar, S. (2004). Does happiness pay? In Challenges for Quality of Life in the Contemporary World (pp. 179-204): Springer.Google Scholar
  27. Graham, C., Eggers, A., & Sukhtankar, S. (2006). Happiness pays: An analysis of well-being, income, and health based on Russian (p. 370). Mobility and Inequality: Frontiers of Research in Sociology and Economics.Google Scholar
  28. Grootaert, C. (1999). Social capital, household welfare, and poverty in Indonesia. Washington DC USA: The World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hagerty, M. R., & `, R. (2003). Wealth and happiness revisited–growing national income does go with greater happiness. Social Indicators Research, 64(1), 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Krueger, A. B., & Schkade, D. A. (2008). The reliability of subjective well-being measures. Journal of Public Economics, 92(8–9), 1833–1845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mackinnon, A., McCallum, J., Andrews, G., & Anderson, I. (1998). The center for epidemiological studies depression scale in older community samples in Indonesia, North Korea, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 53(6), P343-P352.Google Scholar
  32. Marmot, M. (2002). The influence of income on health: Views of an epidemiologist. Health Affairs, 21(2), 31–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mather, W. G. (1941). Income and social participation. American Sociological Review, 6(3), 380–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Narayan, D., & Pritchett, L. (1999). Cents and sociability: Household income and social capital in rural Tanzania. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 47(4), 871–897.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ng, W., & Diener, E. (2019). Affluence and subjective well-being: Does income inequality moderate their associations? Applied Research in Quality of Life, 14(1), 155–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Oswald, A. J. (1997). Happiness and economic performance. The Economic Journal, 107(445), 1815–1831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Oswald, A. J., Proto, E., & Sgroi, D. (2015). Happiness and productivity. Journal of Labor Economics, 33(4), 789–822.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Oswald, A. J., & Wu, S. (2011). Well-being across America. Review of Economics and Statistics, 93(4), 1118–1134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1(3), 385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Resosudarmo, B. P., & Jotzo, F. (2009). Working with nature against poverty: Development, resources and the environment in eastern Indonesia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rojas, M. (2019). Relative income and happiness in Latin America: Implications for inequality debates, In The Economics of Happiness (pp. 107–126). Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
  42. Sachs, J. D., Layard, R., & Helliwell, J. F. (2018). World happiness report 2018. New York USA: Sustainable Development Solutions Network.Google Scholar
  43. Stack, S., & Eshleman, J. R. (1998). Marital status and happiness: A 17-nation study. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 527–536.Google Scholar
  44. Strauss, J., Beegle, K., Sikoki, B., Dwiyanto, A., Herawati, Y., & Witoelar, F. (2004). The third wave of the Indonesia family life survey (IFLS3): Overview and field report. Santa Monica California USA: RAND.Google Scholar
  45. Strauss, J., Witoelar, F., & Sikoki, B. (2016a). The fifth wave of the Indonesia family life survey: Overview and field report. Santa Monica California USA: RAND.Google Scholar
  46. Strauss, J., Witoelar, F., Sikoki, B., & Wattie, A. (2016b). User's Guide for the Indonesia Family Life Survey, Wave 5: RAND Santa Monica.Google Scholar
  47. Stratton, K. J., Aggen, S. H., Richardson, L. K., Acierno, R., Kilpatrick, D. G., Gaboury, M. T., & Ha, T. T. (2013). Evaluation of the psychometric properties of the Self-Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ-20) in a sample of Vietnamese adults. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 54(4), 398-405.Google Scholar
  48. Stutzer, A., & Frey, B. S. (2006). Does marriage make people happy, or do happy people get married? The Journal of Socio-Economics, 35(2), 326–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sujarwoto, S., Tampubolon, G., & Pierewan, A. C. (2018). Individual and contextual factors of happiness and life satisfaction in a low middle income country. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 13(4), 927–945.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Suryadarma, D. (2015). Gender differences in numeracy in Indonesia: Evidence from a longitudinal dataset. Education Economics, 23(2), 180–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Suryadarma, D., Suryahadi, A., Sumarto, S., & Rogers, F. H. (2006). Improving student performance in public primary schools in developing countries: Evidence from Indonesia. Education Economics, 14(4), 401–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tkach, C., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How do people pursue happiness?: Relating personality, happiness-increasing strategies, and well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(2), 183–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Van Long, N. (2011). The relative income hypothesis. Journal of Economic Dynamics & Control, 35, 1489–1501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Veenhoven, R. (2013). Conditions of happiness. Erasmus Netherlands: Springer Science & Business Media.Google Scholar
  55. World Bank. (2008). Indonesia regional economic development. Jakarta Indonesia: World Bank.Google Scholar
  56. World Bank. (2012). Indonesia economic development. Jakarta Indonesia: World Bank.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) and Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Portsmouth Brawijaya Centre for Global Health, Population and PolicyUniversity of Brawijaya Malang IndonesiaMalangIndonesia

Personalised recommendations