Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 1763–1797 | Cite as

Subjective Well-Being During the 2008 Economic Crisis: Identification of Mediating and Moderating Factors

  • Gregor Gonza
  • Anže BurgerEmail author
Research Paper


We examine the effects of the 2008 economic crisis on the reported subjective well-being (SWB) of nationally representative samples in 36 mainly European countries between 2002 and 2013. We study how SWB fluctuates along the business cycle, and how it is mediated by individual and country-level socioeconomic factors. Our key finding is that the economic crisis had a negative and S-shaped effect on SWB, implying diminishing marginal sensitivity at higher income losses and gains. During the economic downturn, roughly half of individual-level and macro-level determinants exhibit notable changes in significance and/or magnitude of the effect on SWB. This is taken as an indication of psychological adaptation and shifting reference frames. Five factors display an augmented effect on happiness and life satisfaction during the crisis (below-average income, the Gini index, attitude towards income equality, religiosity, and conscientiousness), while two determinants exhibit attenuated impact on the SWB measures (relationship status and unemployment rate).


Subjective well-being Happiness Life satisfaction Economic crisis Hedonic adaptation 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia
  2. 2.National Bureau of InvestigationLjubljanaSlovenia

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