The biometric antecedents to happiness

PLoS One. 2017 Sep 15;12(9):e0184887. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0184887. eCollection 2017.


It has been suggested that biological markers are associated with human happiness. We contribute to the empirical literature by examining the independent association between various aspects of biometric wellbeing measured in childhood and happiness in adulthood. Using Young Finns Study data (n = 1905) and nationally representative linked data we examine whether eight biomarkers measured in childhood (1980) are associated with happiness in adulthood (2001). Using linked data we account for a very rich set of confounders including age, sex, body size, family background, nutritional intake, physical activity, income, education and labour market experiences. We find that there is a negative relationship between triglycerides and subjective well-being but it is both gender- and age-specific and the relationship does not prevail using the later measurements (1983/1986) on triglycerides. In summary, we conclude that none of the eight biomarkers measured in childhood predict happiness robustly in adulthood.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Happiness*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Sex Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • Triglycerides

Grant support

The Young Finns Study has been financially supported by the Academy of Finland: grants 286284, 134309 (Eye), 126925, 121584, 124282, 129378 (Salve), 117787 (Gendi), and 41071 (Skidi); the Social Insurance Institution of Finland; Competitive State Research Financing of the Expert Responsibility area of Kuopio, Tampere and Turku University Hospitals (grant X51001); Juho Vainio Foundation; Paavo Nurmi Foundation; Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research; Finnish Cultural Foundation; Tampere Tuberculosis Foundation; Emil Aaltonen Foundation; Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation; Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation; and Diabetes Research Foundation of Finnish Diabetes Association. The Palkansaaja Foundation supported the use of linked data. Böckerman thanks the Strategic Research Council funding for the project Work, Inequality and Public Policy (293120). Jutta Viinikainen appreciates financial support from the Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation (grant 6664) and OP Group Research Foundation. Jaakko Pehkonen acknowledges financial support from the Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation (grant 6646). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.