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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Clue to the Secret to Happiness

WASHINGTON -- Happy Russians are likely to be richer, married ... and down at the tavern, according to a study released Friday.

The study "Does Happiness Pay?" by scholars at the Brookings Institution also found it does not pay to be unhappy, and that divorce and too much booze may easily turn that happiness to misery.

"We found that income was indeed positively and significantly correlated with happiness," the study said.

The Brookings released its happiness report at a gathering of American and British economists who are attempting to determine the mystery of happiness, to see if it affects irrational economic behavior and spending in other countries as well.

"As expected, married people are, on average, happier than unmarried people," it said.

"Divorce made people significantly less happy, although unhappier people were not more likely to get divorced," it said.

The study was authored by Brookings officials Carol Graham, Andrew Eggers and Sandip Sukhtankar.

Its conclusions were largely drawn from an annual survey of some 13,000 Russians between 1992 and 2001.

It found married Russians and happier people, on average, drank more than others but that too much vodka could harm a sunny disposition.

"Thus while drinking is positively correlated with happiness, excessive drinking does not seem to be good for well-being," it said.

It discovered the effects of cigarette smoke are more likely to keep smiles to a minimum but that quitting smoking will not necessarily make you happier.

"Thus while smoking seems to have negative effects on happiness and/or unhappy people are more likely to smoke, we find no casual relationship between unexplained happiness and either starting or stopping smoking," it said.

The findings also reveal that a "greed" effect exists among the super rich "where additional income increases happiness more for the very wealthy than for others."

Russian men were found to be happier than women in the sample, which the scholars stress took place amid huge Russian economic and social change.

Those with university degrees were found to benefit more in the happiness stakes compared with less educated citizens.

People with an inherent sunnier disposition were found to have a higher level of happiness than those who were identical in every respect but had a gloomier outlook.

The authors cautioned that their findings could have been affected by peoples' moods at the time they were surveyed and added that a great deal of happiness still remains unexplained.