Here are two recent findings on the link between unemployment and well-being.
First, in paper presented to this week’s RES Conference, Clemens Hetschko points out (pdf) that when unemployed men retire, they enjoy a big rise in well-being - even larger than that enjoyed by people getting married. This suggests that the unemployed are unhappy not just because they lack income, but because they feel stigmatized; when this stigma ends - nobody expects the retired to work - their happiness rises.
Secondly, Andrew Clark and Yannis Georgellis show not only that unemployment reduces well-being, but also that people do not adapt to it. People who become unemployed get unhappier the longer they are unemployed. In this sense, unemployment is worse than divorce or even widowhood, as people adapt to that and their well-being rises in the years after the event.
All this corroborates what we should know - that unemployment is a large and widespread source of misery. A political system that was serious about improving well-being would therefore have joblessness as its overwhelming priority.
Which our present system doesn’t. Joblessness is just one issue jostling for attention alongside political donations and the price of pasties. And when it does get attention, our rulers only make it worse.