Happiness could be the key to longevity, suggests a new study published in Age and Ageing, which found that happiness is associated with a reduced likelihood of all-cause mortality among older people.
Researchers examined data on 4,478 Singaporeans aged 60 years or older who were enrolled in a nationally-representative longitudinal survey. Happiness was self-reported at baseline via a questionnaire and measured in two ways: with a happiness score (0-6) and a binary happiness variable (happy score 6/unhappy).
The researchers found the likelihood of all-cause mortality was 9 per cent lower for each unit increase in ‘happiness score’, and was 19 per cent lower for happy versus unhappy older people.
"The consistency of the inverse association of happiness with mortality across age groups and gender is insightful - men and women, the young-old and the old-old, all are likely to benefit from an increase in happiness,” said co-author, June May-Ling Lee.
The authors suggested that the true association of happiness with mortality may even be stronger than observed in the study because of reports of limited expression of happiness among East Asian populations.
They said activities, programmes and policies that maintain or improve happiness may be beneficial for a longer life among older people.