Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 203–228 | Cite as

Rising Income Inequality During the Great Recession Had No Impact on Subjective Wellbeing in Europe, 2003–2012

  • M. D. R. EvansEmail author
  • Jonathan Kelley
  • S. M. C. Kelley
  • C. G. E. Kelley
Research Paper


The Great Recession increased income inequality by an average of 6%. We assesses the impact of that on subjective wellbeing (happiness, life satisfaction). Data: European Quality of Life survey, 25 representative national samples at three time points, over 70,000 respondents. Analysis: variance-components multi-level models controlling for GDP per capita (an essential point) and individual-level predictors. Findings: income inequality has no statistically significant impact before, during, or after the Great Recession. Instead (contrary to much previous research) a straightforward individualistic utilitarian–materialist understanding is supported: money does increase wellbeing but inequality itself—the gap between rich and poor—is irrelevant.


Subjective wellbeing Life satisfaction Happiness Utility Great Recession Inequality Europe Income GDP per capita Multi-level models Well-being Quality of life Socioeconomic development Income inequality Poverty 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NevadaRenoUSA
  2. 2.International Survey CenterRenoUSA
  3. 3.University of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  4. 4.American Institutes for ResearchWashingtonUSA

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