Sex Better Than Money for Happiness
More Money Doesn't Mean More Sex, but More Sex Can Make You Feel Richer
WebMD News Archive
July 16, 2004 -- Good news for folks whose bedrooms have more activity than
their bank accounts: New research shows that sex is better for your happiness
That's not to say that being financially poor but sexually
active is the secret to a happy life. But despite common theory, more money
doesn't get you more sex, say "happiness economics" researchers.
After analyzing data on the self-reported levels of sexual
activity and happiness of 16,000 people, Dartmouth College economist David
Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in England report
that sex "enters so strongly (and) positively in happiness equations"
that they estimate increasing intercourse from once a month to once a week is
equivalent to the amount of happiness generated by getting an additional
$50,000 in income for the average American.
"The evidence we see is that money brings some amounts of
happiness, but not as much as what economists might have thought," says
Blanchflower. "We had to look to psychologists and realize that other
things really matter."
Rich Man, Poor Man: What's the Difference?
Their paper, "Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical
Study," recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research,
essentially puts an estimated dollar amount on the happiness level resulting
from sex and its trappings.
Despite popular opinion, they find that having more money
doesn't mean you get more sex; there's no difference between the frequency of
sex and income level. But they do find sex seems to have a greater effect on
happiness levels in highly educated -- and presumingly wealthier -- people than
on those with lower educational status.
Overall, the happiest folks are those getting the most sex --
married people, who report 30% more between-the-sheets action than single
folks. In fact, the economists calculate that a lasting marriage equates to
happiness generated by getting an extra $100,000 each year. Divorce, meanwhile,
translates to a happiness depletion of $66,000 annually.
Whether that hefty happiness income boost is the result of
marital bliss or more sex is up for debate. But their "econometric"
calculations confirm what psychologists have long known: People who consider
themselves happy are usually richer in sexual activity.
"Many studies confirm that people who are depressed have
less sex," says psychologist and sex therapist Robert Hatfield, PhD, of the
University of Cincinnati and a spokesman for the Society for the Scientific
Study of Sexuality. "Conversely, if you're not depressed -- 'happy,' as
some might say -- you're more likely to have more frequent sex."
Does sex lead to happiness, or are happy people just more
likely to lead each other to the bedroom? That's still under investigation, but
there is evidence that psyche and sex feed off each other.
Semen: An Antidepressant?
Take that study in the May 2001 issue of the Journal of Sex
Research, in which Georgia State University researchers found that people
who are involuntarily celibate are frequently afflicted with nonhappy feelings
-- anger, frustration, self-doubt, and even depression. They conclude it's the
result of "missed opportunities" of living without sex.