Calibrating Contentment: The Metrics of Health and Happiness

Annette B. Ramirez de Arellano


This historical note examines Puerto Rico’s pioneering role in the development of happiness studies. In 1963-64, the Puerto Health Department’s Master Sample Survey included a series of questions on well-being to tap into self-assessed happiness. The study found that happiness was positively correlated with income, education, and health. It also found that women were less happy than men, and that well-being was negatively correlated with age. Since then, the metrics of happiness have gained currency, and several countries have adopted indices to measure their population’s self-perceived well-being. Studies have also documented the reciprocal relationship between health and happiness.


determinants of health, measuring happiness, Puerto Rico

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Published by the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus
Founded in 1982