Social Indicators Research

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 3-26

Crossnational Differences in Happiness: Economic and Cultural Factors Explored

  • Peggy SchynsAffiliated withFaculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam

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In forty countries, happiness was correlated with national economic and cultural living conditions. Both characteristics correlated strongly and positively with happiness. Need theory predicts this observed pattern quite well. However, when exploring the independent influence on happiness of either predictors, only economic prosperity persistently correlated with happiness. The relation between culture and happiness proved to be spurious. When subgroups of countries were studied, within the group of rich countries a positive first order correlation was found between happiness and culture, whereas in the group of free countries a positive correlation between happiness and economic prosperity was found, when controlling for culture. Especially the study of countries in transition is helpful in discovering causal relations between economic prosperity, culture and happiness.