1957 was the happiest year in Britain of the last century, according to researchers at Warwick University and the Social Market Foundation, supporting Prime Minister Harold Macmillan's declaration at that the time that Briton's had "never had it so good".
Although life expectancies were lower, more hours were worked in a typical week, fewer households had central heating, and less than half the population owned a television, levels of public happiness were at a height never reached again since.
Researchers looked at eight million books and analysed billions of words like "enjoyment”, “vacation”, “peaceful”, “murder”, “disease” and “starvation” to track changing patterns in happiness across the UK, Italy, the USA, France, Spain and Germany.
The texts were written between 1776, when the American Declaration of Independence, one of the most famous historical documents to reference happiness, was issued, and 2009.
Researchers found no connection between economic growth and the state of human happiness in the long run, but that economic downturns such as recessions and large-scale economic collapse like the World Wars and the Great Depression lead to plummeting levels of well-being.
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