Happiness and Partnerships

Shuai Chen, Jan C. van Ours

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Partnered individuals are generally happier than singles. The positive association between partnership and happiness has multiple explanations. A simple comparison of singles and partnered individuals is insufficient to establish the origin of the positive association. It is possible that some individual characteristics affect both the probability to be partnered and happiness in the same direction. It is also possible that happier people are more likely to find a partner. Thus, they are not simply happier because they are in a partnership but because they were already happier before they found a partner. Moreover, there could be a causal effect of partnership formation on happiness. Finally, it is possible that a shock to one’s happiness changes the likelihood of partnership formation of that individual. This is reverse causality from the perspective of the link from partnership to happiness. To begin with, this chapter discusses theoretical foundations for partnership formations focusing on marriage between a man and a women and also describing cohabitation and same-sex partnerships. Then, the chapter presents an overview of empirical studies on happiness and partnerships exploring methodological issues and highlighting main findings: Partnership formation seems to increase happiness with same-sex partnerships being no different than different-sex partnerships; marriage generates more happiness than cohabitation; and reverse causality does not seem to be important.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics
EditorsKlaus Zimmermann
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-57365-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-57365-6
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Mar 2021

Publication series

NameHandbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics


  • Partnered individuals
  • happiness

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