Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 71–91 | Cite as

Well-being, Happiness and Why Relationships Matter: Evidence from Bangladesh

  • Laura CamfieldEmail author
  • Kaneta Choudhury
  • Joe Devine
Original Paper


Although Bangladesh is known as one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world, qualitative research and anecdotal evidence suggests its people report levels of happiness that are higher than those found in many other countries. This includes ‘developed’ countries where people have larger per capita incomes and can access a wider range of public services and goods. The paper explores this apparent paradox by analysing primary quantitative and qualitative data, and engaging with existing literature on happiness and objective wellbeing in Bangladesh. The data and analysis presented makes an original and timely contribution to the limited knowledge we have of the construction and experience of happiness and life satisfaction in contexts of extreme and persistent economic poverty. It identifies and offers insights into the ‘personal’ as well as social or ‘relational’ values and goals that people in Bangladesh consider important to achieve happiness in life. It also reflects on how different people experience these values and goals in very different ways. This, we argue, leads to a better understanding of the influence of the social and cultural context in the construction of people’s happiness. In the conclusion, we reflect on the policy implications of our findings.


Bangladesh Developing countries International Development Happiness Quality of Life Culture Poverty Relationships 



Thanks to the Wellbeing in Development Countries research team in Bangladesh, and to Mariano Rojas, Geof Wood, Robert Cummins, and two anonymous referees for their insightful comments and helpful recommendations on earlier drafts of this paper. The support of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is gratefully acknowledged. The work was part of the programme of the ESRC Research Group on Wellbeing in Developing Countries.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wellbeing in Developing Countries ESRC Research GroupUniversity of BathBathUK

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