Research dispels myth that weather affects our mood

A study that uses data from the British Household Panel Survey has found that good weather does not make a difference to our happiness levels; instead we are driven by our income, jobs and health.

Research by Dr Franz Buscha, Principal Research Fellow at the University’s Centre for Employment Research, has found that weather makes no difference to our happiness.

The study, which spans 20 years, shows that although day-to-day good weather does not improve our mood, we are more likely to feel miserable when having to work on a sunny day.

Dr Buscha’s research was conducted using Met Office data and individual well-being figures taken from the British Household Panel Survey. The survey analysed 5,500 British households over 17 years, asking questions about housing conditions, employment and income.

Looking for links between well-being and weather, the study concluded there was no strong correlation between weather and mood patterns. However, there was a strong indication that happiness was in fact driven by income, job or health.

Various studies and weather events have suggested that global warming and climate change are becoming prominent features of our lives. For example, 2014 was the warmest year on record in the UK and eight of the top 10 warmest years have occurred since 2002.

Previous work on this question has not come to a definitive conclusion with various studies finding statistically significant correlations between weather and well-being and other finding no connection. To date, no study has examined this effect in the UK and none have used a nationally representative longitudinal sample of data.

Dr Buscha says:

“Indeed, the UK population seems relatively resilient at dealing with daily and short-run weather fluctuations. Extrapolating these results suggests that the increase in extreme type weather events, such as higher global temperatures or more rain, are unlikely to affect the well-being of the UK population directly.

“But it is possible that extreme weather events will indirectly affect measures of well-being via droughts, floods or other personal life events. This as an important avenue for future research” he concludes.

Dr Buscha’s findings will be presented this month at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference.

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