Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 103–128 | Cite as

Happiness and Unhappiness in the Developing World: Life Satisfaction Among Sex Workers, Dump-Dwellers, Urban Poor, and Rural Peasants in Nicaragua

  • Keith CoxEmail author


Little in-depth research exists on subjective well-being (SWB) in the developing world, especially among the poor and extremely poor. Biswas-Diener and Diener (Soc Indic Res 55:329–352, 2001) employed a study design in the slums of Calcutta, India to address this gap in SWB research. They found slightly negative global SWB but slightly positive domain specific satisfaction in their sample. The current study employs the same paradigm and investigates the SWB of female sex workers, city dump dwellers, and urban and rural poor in Nicaragua, Central America. The current study was able to replicate the Biswas-Diener and Diener (Soc Indic Res 55:329–352, 2001) finding of slightly negative SWB for marginalized urban groups. In addition, an overall model for predicting SWB was constructed using personality dispositions, objective income, social support, and social rootedness as predictors. Social support and objective income were the only significant predictors in the model but more zero order relations existed. Additionally, this study contrasted urban poor versus rural poor and found no significant SWB differences.


Subjective well-being Life satisfaction Developing world Poverty Nicaragua Social support 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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