Research Paper

Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 17-29

First online:

I’m Happy, Hope You’re Happy Too.

Examining the Different Dynamics of Individual Subjective Well-Being and View on Society
  • Marc HoogheAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, Catholic University Leuven Email author 

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While most empirical studies show stable and high levels of subjective well-being in Western societies, other studies have documented an apparently contradictory feeling of a loss of sense of community and high levels of discontent with the way society functions. Based on an analysis of the Social Cohesion Indicators survey (SCIF, Belgium), we demonstrate that subjective well-being and one’s view on society are two distinct concepts. Both measurements are related, however, with some spill-over effects from individual well-being toward the assessment of society. Most notably, ethnocentrism does not have an impact on subjective well-being, but it has a strong negative impact on the view on society. Ethnocentrism has a strong effect on the distribution of discontent with society. We hypothesize that ethnocentric actors might still be satisfied with their own living conditions, but that they feel increasingly alienated from the culturally diverse society they live in.


Subjective well-being Belgium Ethnocentrism Alienation SCIF survey