Does active leisure make life more satisfying? If so, what kind of leisure activity is the greatest contributor to happiness? These questions are answered by means of data from four waves of a large-scale continuous study of the general public in Germany. Cross-sectional analysis does not show much of a relationship between happiness and last year’s leisure activities, with the exception of holiday trips. People who took one or more holiday trips appeared to be significantly happier, even when income, health, and personality were controlled for. Over-time analysis suggests that the correlation is due to an effect of holiday trips on happiness rather than an effect of happiness on holiday tripping. If holiday trips boost happiness, the effect is short lived. This is not to say that the effect is trivial. Holiday trips accounted for about 2% of the variance in happiness, which is comparable to observed effects of some happiness training programs and financial windfalls.

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World Database of Happiness
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Nawijn, J, & Veenhoven, R. (2011). The Effect of Leisure Activities on Life Satisfaction: The Importance of Holiday Trips. In World Database of Happiness. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-1375-8_4