09:55 19 November 2009
You can put a price on love and happiness, extensive new research has revealed.
Professor Paul Frijters spent eight years following the effect of major life events on a sample of 10,000 people.
He discovered that there is a gender divide in the monetary worth of life's milestones.
Wedding bells provide only around £9,000 worth of joy to women, but a man would value it at around £18,000.
The differences between the sexes continues on the other side of the marriage spectrum - divorce.
Men are so emotionally devastated by a broken marriage that it feels as though they have lost £61,500.
Women find the pain less worthy, leaving them feeling as if they had lost only £5,000.
The sums for these events have been calculated by estimating how much money a person would have to receive in a lump sum to bring the same amount of joy back into their lives.
Professor Frijters said: "These are real people to whom unexpected things happen.
"They were not selected because these things would happen and, because of that, we can accurately compare their happiness before and after."
In addition, the volunteers were asked to rate how satisfied they were with their lives on a scale of 0-10 with zero being the unhappiest and 10 as overjoyed. The most common answer was eight.
However, the ratings differed after, and occasionally in anticipation of, life-altering events, including sudden changes in income.
These changes allowed Professor Frijters, of Queensland University of Technology, to assign cash values to the happiness created by events such as marriage, divorce and illness.
Time plays a significant factor as expectant parents were happier in the build up to their childs birth, but within months they were slightly less happy than they would have been if they had not had children at all.
The findings also stated that we feel the loss of a loved one more keenly than finding new love.
Frijters said: "Losing a loved one has a much bigger effect than gaining a loved one.
"There's a real asymmetry between life and death. This shouldn't surprise us. Human beings seem primed to notice losses more than gains."
The death of a partner or a child creates the feeling of a loss of £73,000 to a woman and more than £350,000 to a man, according to the study.
Frijters warned that: "This isn't the value of the life that's lost, that would be much higher, of course.
"This is just the effect on the happiness of one person flowing from a death."
He said that while he did not know why major life events appeared to have different effects on men than women, he concluded that money has a greater effect on happiness than has previously been thought.
The worth of life's major events:
Birth of child
Death of a loved one
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