That's not to say that being financially poor but sexually active is the secret to a happy life. But despite common theory, more money doesn't get you more sex, say "happiness economics" researchers.
After analyzing data on the self-reported levels of sexual activity and happiness of 16,000 people, Dartmouth College economist David Blachflower and Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in England report that sex "enters so strongly (and) positively in happiness equations" that they estimate increasing intercourse from once a month to once a week is equivalent to the amount of happiness generated by getting an additional $50,000 in income for the average American.
"The evidence we see is that money brings some amounts of happiness, but not as much as what economists might have thought," says Blanchflower. "We had to look to psychologists and realize that other things really matter."
Rich Man, Poor Man: What's the Difference?
Their paper, "Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study," recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, essentially puts an estimated dollar amount on the happiness level resulting from sex and its trappings.
Despite popular opinion, they find that having more money doesn't mean you get more sex; there's no difference between the frequency of sex and income level. But they do find sex seems to have a greater effect on happiness levels in highly educated -- and presumingly wealthier -- people than on those with lower educational status.
Overall, the happiest folks are those getting the most sex -- married people, who report 30% more between-the-sheets action than single folks. In fact, the economists calculate that a lasting marriage equates to happiness generated by getting an extra $100,000 each year. Divorce, meanwhile, translates to a happiness depletion of $66,000 annually.
Whether that hefty happiness income boost is the result of marital bliss or more sex is up for debate. But their "econometric" calculations confirm what psychologists have long known: People who consider themselves happy are usually richer in sexual activity.
"Many studies confirm that people who are depressed have less sex," says psychologist and sex therapist Robert Hatfield, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati and a spokesman for the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. "Conversely, if you're not depressed -- 'happy,' as some might say -- you're more likely to have more frequent sex."
Does sex lead to happiness, or are happy people just more likely to lead each other to the bedroom? That's still under investigation, but there is evidence that psyche and sex feed off each other.
If intimacy and pleasure aren't good enough reasons to have sex, you may want to consider your health.
Drs. Oz and Roizen's book "You: Being Beautiful" looks at the biology of sex.
Men who have sex three times a week can decrease their risk of heart attack and stroke by 50 percent, while women who enjoy sex tend to live longer than those who don't, according to Drs. Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz.
It's interesting information for a species that thrives on sex.
"Humans maybe are the most sexual species of all," Roizen, an anesthesiologist and internal medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, said on "Good Morning America" today.
He said researchers know this because women are sexually active for almost their entire lives and throughout all times of their menstrual cycle — meaning that they choose to have sex even during times when they are physiologically unable to produce offspring, he added.
Great sex can make your body feel two to eight years younger for women and the same is true for men who have 150 to 350 orgasms a year.
But the benefits don't stop there. Increasing sex from once a month to once a week is the happiness equivalent of an additional $50,000 in income for the typical American, Oz said on "GMA" today.