Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 227–255 | Cite as

Direct democracy and life satisfaction revisited: new evidence for Switzerland

  • David Dorn
  • Justina A. V. FischerEmail author
  • Gebhard Kirchgässner
  • Alfonso Sousa-Poza
Research paper


We re-evaluate the relation between cantonal direct democracy and perceived subjective well-being in Switzerland using new data from the Swiss Household Panel. In addition, this study goes beyond previous work by carefully controlling for cultural determinants of happiness such as languages and religion. We find that once language is controlled for, no robust significant relationship between the extent of direct democracy and life satisfaction can be observed. The results also show that direct democracy does not affect well-being within language groups in Switzerland.


Culture Direct democracy Happiness Institutions Utility 



An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Workshop on Happiness, Economics and Interpersonal Relationships, (4/12/2004), the International Conference of Panel Data Users in Switzerland (26/02/2005), the American Public Choice Society Conference (10/03/2005), the Annual Conference of the Swiss Society for Statistics and Economics (17/03/2005), and the European Public Choice Society Conference (3/04/2005). We would like to thank conference participants for helpful comments. This study has been realized using the data collected in the “Living in Switzerland Survey” by the Swiss Household Panel (SHP), Université de Neuchâtel. This project is financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant-No. 5004-53205/5004-57894/5004-67304/10FI11-103293). We also thank the Swiss National Science Foundation for financial support of our research (Grant-No. 5004-58524). The second author would like to thank the Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD), London School of Economics, for their generous hospitality.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Dorn
    • 1
  • Justina A. V. Fischer
    • 2
    Email author
  • Gebhard Kirchgässner
    • 3
  • Alfonso Sousa-Poza
    • 1
  1. 1.University of St. Gallen, FAA-HSGSt. GallenSwitzerland
  2. 2.Hoover InstitutionStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  3. 3.University of St. Gallen, SIAW-HSG, CESifo and LeopoldinaSt. GallenSwitzerland

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