Subjective Well-Being in an Era of Relentless Growth: The Case of Turkey Between 2004 and 2014
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This paper analyses the subjective well-being levels in Turkey between 2004 and 2014 by relying on Turkish Statistical Institute’s Life Satisfaction Surveys. This is the first study ever suggesting an alternative well-being approach for Turkish population based on subjective measures. Inspired from the Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness and Cummins et al.’s (2003) Australian Unity Well-Being Index approaches, we constructed several subjective well-being indexes for the first time in Turkey. The main findings of this study are as follows: (1) Despite GDP per capita (in current $) doubles between 2004 and 2014 period, constructed indexes show slight increments or stagnate around some level. (2) We found a slight support for Frey and Stutzer’s (2002a) argument that GDP per capita is insensible after some threshold. (3) National well-being indicators are found to be more volatile than individual well-being indicators, which hints that individuals may be using their informal social networks as a shelter from the economic and politic fluctuations in the country. (4) Much of the volatility in subjective well-being indexes are caused by psychological well-being indicators. Previous results indicate that as basic requirements of a society are met after some level of per capita income, non-materialistic aspirations- like happiness, freedom or justice-started to surpass materialistic aspirations. Same is true for Turkey- this led us to conclude that the reductionist approach of delegating the solution of social and ecological problems to economic growth process may lie beneath this dismal outcome in Turkey in the last decade. Thus, we recommend policy-makers to upkeep with the reform process which would make economic and political system more transparent and competitive, which in turn, help to ameliorate the channels through which individuals fulfil their aspirations.
KeywordsSubjective well-being Gross national happiness Economic growth Turkey
JEL ClassificationD63 I31 O12
We are grateful for The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) for the financial support under the 1001 Scientific and Technological Research Projects Funding Program No: 115K576. We would like to thank Burç Ülengin and Bekir Ağırdır for their invaluable comments on this study; to TURKSTAT for their provision of the LSS data and to Ömer Faruk Dağlar for his help on the paper.
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