Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 497–516 | Cite as

Does Needs Satisfaction Matter for Psychological and Subjective Wellbeing in Developing Countries: A Mixed-Methods Illustration from Bangladesh and Thailand

  • Laura CamfieldEmail author
  • Monica Guillen-Royo
  • Jackeline Velazco
Research Paper


The paper uses qualitative and quantitative data collected by the Wellbeing in Developing Countries ESRC research group in Bangladesh and Thailand to explore the extent to which objective need deprivation predicts subjective and psychological wellbeing, controlling for location, socio-economic status, and gender. The regression analysis is triangulated with qualitative analysis of three illustrative case studies to explore why people experiencing great need deprivation nevertheless report high subjective and psychological wellbeing and propose factors that might support their resilience. The paper reports perhaps unsurprisingly that need deprivation was lower in Thailand than Bangladesh, and subjective and psychological wellbeing higher, with the exception of life satisfaction which was higher in Bangladesh. While goal attainment was significantly associated with affect and life satisfaction in both countries, in Thailand life satisfaction and goal attainment were negatively correlated (−.334), so the more goals respondents felt they had attained, the less satisfied they were. These apparent anomalies are explored further using data from the case studies. The findings confirm that although measures of subjective and psychological wellbeing are correlated, they are not substitutable. For example, subjective wellbeing, especially positive affect, is more influenced by need deprivation than psychological wellbeing, while psychological wellbeing is more influenced by demographic factors, especially in Thailand. Finally, the paper discusses whether the distinct relationships of subjective and psychological wellbeing with need deprivation and income have any implications for policymakers.


Asia Thailand Bangladesh Subjective wellbeing Needs Income Mixed-methods 



The data analysed in this paper was collected by the UK Economic and Social Research Council research group on Wellbeing in Developing Countries (WeD, as part of its exploration of the social and cultural construction of wellbeing in Thailand and Bangladesh. The authors would like to thank our collaborators in Prince of Songkhla and Khon Kaen Universities, Proshika, BIDS, and IDDRB. The support of the Economic and Social Research Council is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Camfield
    • 1
    Email author
  • Monica Guillen-Royo
    • 2
  • Jackeline Velazco
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of International Development, Queen Elizabeth HouseUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.SUM, University of OsloOsloNorway
  3. 3.University of GironaGironaSpain

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