, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 329-352

Making the Best of a Bad Situation: Satisfaction in the Slums of Calcutta

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Abstract

Eighty three people in the slums of Calcutta,India were interviewed, and responded toseveral measures of subjective well-being. Therespondents came from one of three groups:Those living in slum housing, sex workers(prostitutes) residing in brothels, andhomeless individuals living on the streets.They responded to questions about lifesatisfaction and satisfaction with various lifedomains, as well as to a memory recall measureof good and bad events in their lives. Whilethe mean rating of general life satisfactionwas slightly negative, the mean ratings ofsatisfaction with specific domains werepositive. The conclusion is that the slumdwellers of Calcutta generally experience alower sense of life satisfaction than moreaffluent comparison groups, but are moresatisfied than one might expect. This could bedue, in part, to the strong emphasis on socialrelationships and the satisfaction derived fromthem.