Edited by Heikki Ervasti, Torben Fridberg, Mikael Hjerm and Kristen Ringdal
Terje Andreas Eikemo, Arne Mastekaasa and Kristen Ringdal INTRODUCTION The study of general health and happiness has been thought of as diﬀerent ﬁelds; the ﬁrst mainly located within public health, and the second within the ﬁeld of quality of life. Given the closeness of the concepts, the lack of links in the research literature between studies of general health and happiness may come as a surprise. In this chapter we consider health and happiness to be related but separate concepts. We do not, however, attempt to disentangle the nature of their relationship. We keep an open mind as to whether happiness is promoting health or whether health rather leads to happiness, or whether happiness is best seen as a component of health. A common conclusion in quality of life research is that subjective wellbeing is only very weakly related to material living conditions (for reviews, see Arthaud-Day and Near 2005; Diener and Biswas-Diener 2002). Indeed, early ﬁndings of such weak relationships in the pioneering quality of life studies of the 1970s (in particular, Campbell et al. 1976; Andrews and Withey 1976) have led to a proliferation of theoretical interpretations, which mostly focus on various kinds of social comparison and adaptation eﬀects. Whereas the weak eﬀects of material living conditions are commonly emphasized in quality of life research, the situation is quite diﬀerent in research on health, including subjectively assessed health. In this ﬁeld, income, social class and other indicators of material living conditions are generally considered...
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