Singapore Institute of Technology
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Happy people live longer because they are healthy people

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-22, 02:40 authored by Cai Feng Song, Kay Chai Peter TayKay Chai Peter Tay, Xinyi Gwee, Shiou Liang WeeShiou Liang Wee, Tze Pin Ng
Abstract Objectives Higher levels of happiness are associated with longer life expectancy. Our study assessed the extent to which various factors explain the protective effect of happiness on all-cause mortality risk, and whether the association differs between older men and women. Methods Using data from the Singapore Longitudinal Aging Studies (N = 6073) of community-dwelling older adults aged ≥ 55 years, we analyzed the association of baseline Likert score of happiness (1 = very sad to 5 = very happy) and mortality from mean 11.7 years of follow up. Cox regression models were used to assess the extent to which confounding risk factors attenuated the hazard ratio of association in the whole sample and sex-stratified analyses. Results Happiness was significantly associated with lower mortality (p < .001) adjusted for age, sex and ethnicity: HR = 0.85 per integer score and HR = 0.57 for fairly-or-very happy versus fairly-or-very sad. The HR estimate (0.90 per integer score) was modestly attenuated (33.3%) in models that included socio-demographic and support, lifestyle or physical health and functioning factor, but remained statistically significant. The HR estimate (0.94 per integer score) was substantially attenuated (60%) and was insignificant in the model that included psychological health and functioning. Including all co-varying factors in the model resulted in statistically insignificant HR estimate (1.04 per integer score). Similar results were obtained for HR estimates for fairly-to-very happy versus fairly-to- very sad). Discussion Much of the association between happiness and increased life expectancy could be explained by socio-demographic, lifestyle, health and functioning factors, and especially psychological health and functioning factors.


Ministry of Education Innovation Capability Fund under Grant (R-MOE-A404-F024)


Journal/Conference/Book title

BMC Geriatrics

Publication date



  • Published

Project ID

  • 7117 (R-MOE-A404-F024) Extending Health Span and Advancing Person Centric Care in Community

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