Advertisement

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
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

References

  1. Atienza, F. L., Balaguer, I., & García-Merita, M. L. (2003). Satisfaction with life scale: Analysis of factorial invariance across sexes. Personality and Individual Differences, 35, 1255–1260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker, L. M., Wilson, F. L., & Winebarger, A. L. (2004). An exploratory study of the health problems, stigmatization, life satisfaction, and literacy skills of urban, street-level sex workers. Women and Health, 39, 83–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balatsky, G., & Diener, E. (1993). Subjective well-being among Russian students. Social Indicators Research, 28, 225–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Benet-Martinez, V., & John, O. P. (1998). Los Cinco Grandes across cultures and ethnic groups : Multitrait multimethod analyses of the Big Five in Spanish and English. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 729–750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Biswas-Diener, R., & Diener, E. (2001). Making the best of a bad situation: Satisfaction in the slums of Calcutta. Social Indicators Research, 55, 329–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Biswas-Diener, R., & Diener, E. (2005). The subjective well-being of the homeless and lessons for happiness. Social Indicators Research, 76, 185–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Biswas-Diener, R., Vittersø, J., & Diener, E. (2005). Most people are pretty happy, but there is cultural variation: The Inughuit, the Amish, and the Maasai. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6, 205–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brickman, P., Coates, D., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1978). Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 917–927.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Camfield, L., Choudhury, K., & Devine, J. (2009). Well-being, happiness, and why relationships matter: Evidence from Bangladesh. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 71–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cohen, S., Mermelstein, R., Kamarack, T., & Hoberman, H. M. (1985). Measuring the functional components of social support. In I. G. Sarason & B. R. Sarason (Eds.), Social support: Theory, research, and applications. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  11. Cox, K.S., Monte Casablanca, A., & McAdams, D.P. (in preparation). “There is nothing good about this life:” Identity and unhappiness among female sex workers in Nicaragura.Google Scholar
  12. Davey, G., Chen, Z., & Lau, A. (2009). ‘Peace in a thatched hut—That is happiness’: Subjective wellbeing among peasants in rural china. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 239–252.Google Scholar
  13. de Waal, F. (1996). Good natured: The origins of right and wrong in humans and other animals. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. DeNeve, K. M., & Cooper, H. (1998). The happy personality: A meta-analysis of 137 personality traits and subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 197–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Di Tella, R., & MacCulloch, R. (2010). Happiness adaptation to income beyond “basic needs”. In E. Diener, D. Kahneman, & J. F. Helliwell (Eds.), International differences in well-being (pp. 217–246). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Diener, E., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2002). Will money increase subjective well-being? A literature review and guide to needed research. Social Indicators Research, 57, 119–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Diener, E., Diener, M., & Diener, C. (1995). Factors predicting the subjective well-being of nations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 851–864.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larson, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Diener, E., Kahneman, D., Tov, W., & Arora, R. (2010a). Income’s association with judgments of life versus feelings. In E. Diener, J. Helliwell, & D. Kahneman (Eds.), International differences in well-being (pp. 3–15). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Diener, E., Lucas, R. E., Schimmack, U., & Helliwell, J. F. (2009). Well-being for public policy. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Diener, E., Napa-Scollon, C. K., Oishi, S., Dzokoto, V., & Suh, E. M. (2000). Positivity and the construction of life satisfaction judgments: Global happiness is not the sum of its parts. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1, 159–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Diener, E., Ng, W., Harter, J., & Arora, R. (2010b). Wealth and happiness across the world: Material prosperity predicts life evaluation, while psychosocial prosperity predicts positive feeling. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 143–156.Google Scholar
  23. Diener, E., & Oishi, S. (2000). Money and happiness: Income and subjective wellbeing across nations. In E. Diener & E. M. Suh (Eds.), Subjective well-being across cultures (pp. 185–217). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  24. Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2003). Personality, culture, and subjective well-being: Emotional and cognitive evaluations of life. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 403–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Diener, E., Sandvik, E., Seidlitz, L., & Diener, M. (1993). The relationship between income and subjective well-being: Relative or absolute? Social Indicators Research, 28, 195–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Diener, E., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Beyond money: Toward an economy of well-being. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 5, 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. E. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Diener, E., & Tov, W. (2009). Well-Being on planet earth. Psychological Topics, 18, 213–219.Google Scholar
  29. Easterlin, R. A. (1974). Does economic growth improve the human lot? In P. A. David & M. W. Reder (Eds.), Nations and households in economic growth: Essays in honor of Mozes Abramowitz (pp. 89–125). New York: Academic press.Google Scholar
  30. Easterlin, R. A. (2005). Feeding the illusion of growth and happiness: A reply to Hagerty and Veenhoven. Social Indicators Research, 74, 429–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Frey, B. S. (2008). Happiness: A revolution in economics. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  32. Fuentes, N., & Rojas, M. (2001). Economic theory and subjective well-being: Mexico. Social Indicators Research, 53, 289–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Haller, M., & Hadler, M. (2006). How social relations and structures can produce happiness and unhappiness: An interpersonal comparative analysis. Social Indicators Research, 75, 169–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Headey, B., Muffels, R., & Wagner, G. G. (2010). Long-running German panel shows that personal and economic choices, not just genes, matter for happiness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA (pp. 1–5).Google Scholar
  35. Hogan, R., Jones, W. H., & Cheek, J. M. (1985). Socioanalytic theory: An alternative to armadillo psychology. In B. R. Schlenker (Ed.), The self and social life (pp. 175–198). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  36. Howell, R. T., & Howell, C. J. (2008). The relation of economic status to subjective well-being in developing countries: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 536–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Inglehart, R. (1997). Modernization and postmodernization: Cultural, economic and political change in 43 societies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Inglehart, R., Foa, R., Peterson, C., & Welzel, C. (2008). Development, freedom, and rising happiness: A global perspective (1981–2007). Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 264–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. John, O. P., Donahue, E. M., & Kentle, R. L. (1991). The Big Five inventory—Versions 4a and 54. University of California, Berkeley, Institute of Personality and Social Research, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  40. Kinzer, S. (2007). Blood of brothers: Life and war in Nicaragua. New York: Putnam.Google Scholar
  41. Lucas, R. E. (2005). Time does not heal all wounds: A longitudinal study of reaction and adaptation to divorce. Psychological Science, 16, 945–950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lucas, R. E. (February 2009). Interpreting evidence about adaptation to life circumstances. Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Tampa, FL.Google Scholar
  43. Lucas, R. E., Clark, A. E., Georgellis, Y., & Diener, E. (2004). Unemployment alters the set point for life satisfaction. Psychological Science, 15, 8–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lucas, R. E., Diener, E., Grob, A., Suh, E. M., & Shao, L. (2000). Cross-cultural evidence for the fundamental features of extraversion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 452–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lykken, D., & Tellegen, A. (1996). Happiness is a stochastic phenomenon. Psychological Science, 7, 186–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (2008). The five factor theory of personality. In O. P. John, R. W. Robins, & L. A. Pervin (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (3rd ed., pp. 159–181). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  47. Oishi, S. (2010). Culture and well-being: Conceptual and methodological issues. In E. Diener, D. Kahneman, & J. F. Helliwell (Eds.), International differences in well-being (pp. 34–69). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Palomar Lever, J. (2004). Poverty and Subjective well-being in Mexico. Social Indicators Research, 68, 1–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schimmack, U., Radhakrishnan, P., Oishi, S., Dzokoto, V., & Ahadi, S. (2002). Culture, personality, and subjective well-being: Integrating process models of life satisfaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 582–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schkade, D. A., & Kahneman, D. (1998). Does living in California make people happy? A focusing illusion in judgments of life satisfaction. Psychological Science, 9, 340–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Silver, R. L. (1982). Coping with an undesirable life event: A study of early reactions to physical disability. Doctoral dissertation, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.Google Scholar
  52. Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (April 15, 2008). Economic growth and subjective well-being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox. Brookings papers on economic activity, Spring, 1–87.Google Scholar
  53. Uchida, Y., Norasakkunit, V., & Shinobu, K. (2004). Cultural constructions of happiness: Theory and empirical evidence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 5, 223–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). (2007/2008). Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world. Brasilia, Brazil. http://www.hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/.
  55. UNPD (United Nations Population Division). (2008). http://www.esa.un.org/unup/.
  56. Veenhoven, R. (1993). Happiness in nations: Subjective appreciation of life in 56 nations (pp. 1946–1992). Rotterdam: Risbo.Google Scholar
  57. Veenhoven, R., & Hagerty, M. (2006). Rising happiness in nations 1946–2004: A reply to Easterlin. Social Indicators Research, 79, 421–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. White, S. C. (1992). Arguing with the Crocodile: Gender and class in Bangladesh. London: Zed.Google Scholar
  59. Wilcox, R. R. (1998). The goals and strategies of robust methods. British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology, 51, 1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Word Bank. (2008). World development indicators 2008. Washington, DC: World Bank Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Personalised recommendations