Social Indicators Research

, Volume 128, Issue 3, pp 1405–1423

Direct Democracy and Subjective Well-Being: The Initiative and Life Satisfaction in the American States


DOI: 10.1007/s11205-015-1085-4

Cite this article as:
Radcliff, B. & Shufeldt, G. Soc Indic Res (2016) 128: 1405. doi:10.1007/s11205-015-1085-4


This paper considers the effect of direct democracy on quality of life in the American States. Specifically, it seeks to determine to what extent the use of the initiative affects satisfaction with life. The theoretical discussion draws upon traditional arguments over direct democracy, along with contemporary research on the quality of representation in the United States. The empirical results suggest that satisfaction varies positively with the extent to which initiatives are used. We also find that this relationship is mediated by income, such that the positive effects of direct democracy are most pronounced for those with the lowest income. The consequences for our understanding of direct democracy, public policy, and the study of life satisfaction are discussed.


Direct democracyLife satisfactionSubjective well-beingWelfare stateAmerican States

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Arkansas at Little RockLittle RockUSA