No link between time in education and happiness, study suggests
- 5 May 2012
- From the section Education & Family
Staying in education longer does not necessarily make someone happier, according to new research.
The UK and German study of people who as teenagers stayed in education until they were 15 in the 1940s did find they had a better memory later in life.
But the study in the Economic Journal found no "statistically significant" effect on wellbeing or quality of life.
The researchers believe improved mental abilities in later life may be due to getting more demanding jobs as adults.
However, Professor James Banks from the University of Manchester said the findings may not correlate for today's youngsters.
The academics compared the mental abilities of those who turned 14 before the school leaving age was raised to 15 in 1947, with those who were 14 just after the change and stayed in school for an extra year.
Data was collected every two years between 2002 and 2008.
Those taking part were given a series of tests, including being asked to remember a list of words or items beginning with a certain letter and were also asked about their quality of life.
The authors suggest those who stayed in school for an additional year were likely to end up with better jobs in more mentally demanding professions, which could benefit their mental abilities later on.
Prof Banks said: "There seems to be, even when we control for other factors, a distinct jump in the mental abilities of those who went to school for an extra year."
He said that in terms of happiness "we were asking people how satisfied are they with their life or current circumstances?".
"Those questions did not demonstrate the same jump," he said.