, Volume 113, Issue 1, pp 537-550
Date: 23 Jun 2012

The Complex Road to Happiness: The Influence of Human Development, a Healthy Environment and a Free Press

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Abstract

Happiness is considered one of the goals of individuals and nations. Thus, many interdisciplinary efforts have attempted to determine the factors that lead to happiness. However, most of these efforts have ignored some important but less tangible factors, such as having a free press and a healthy environment. In this study, we argue that press freedom—a measure of social capital—along with human and built capital, and natural capital, predicts levels of life satisfaction across nations. Using data from 161 countries, our study provides empirical support to our theoretical model that forms of capital do not influence life satisfaction separately but are actually situated in a web of interrelationships. This is consistent with the assumptions that the road to happiness is not direct. It is a complex path where different forms of capital influence one another before leading to a happy life.