The study found that men are most miserable in their 20s, but grow more satisfied as they get older, marry and earn more money.
Women, on the other hand, are happier than men in early adulthood, but the glow wears off with time.
Anke Plagnol, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, and Richard Easterlin, Professor of Economics at University of Southern California looked specifically at the role of unfulfilled desires in a person's sense of well-being.
They found that overall happiness is most heavily linked to the stability of a person's family and finances.
Both sexes have fairly similar life goals when it comes to love, the study reveals.
Nine out of 10 people reach adult life wanting a happy marriage, the study added.
"Of course, one doesn't have to be married to be happy, but if that's something you really want - and it is for most people - then the failure to attain it can have an impact on your overall happiness," Telegraph quoted Plagnol, as saying.
She added that those in a relationship also tend to be in a stronger financial position than those who must depend solely on their own resources.
The paper, 'Aspirations, Attainments, and Satisfaction: Life Cycle Differences Between American Women and Men.' is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Happiness Studies.