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Social Indicators Research

, Volume 97, Issue 1, pp 85–104 | Cite as

Economic, Social, and Cultural Determinants of Life Satisfaction: Are there Differences Between Asia and Europe?

  • Wolfgang JagodzinskiEmail author
Article

Abstract

This paper investigates the influence of the economic, social, and cultural variables on life satisfaction in Asia and Europe. The second section sets a unifying theoretical framework for all three domains by defining life satisfaction as a function of aspirations and expectations which in turn are affected by micro- and macro-level variables. On the micro-level, economic capital is a resource for the actor. On the macro-level, societal economic capital improves the opportunity structure for the individual under certain conditions. Thus, economic capital on both levels positively affects the perceived chances of fulfilling aspirations. As long as the latter remain unchanged life satisfaction will increase. Social and cultural factors partially follow the same logic, as indicated by the terms social and cultural capital. Under a set of assumptions, the hypotheses derived are that personal and societal economic capital, national pride and national integration, religiosity, and societal religious integration, all positively affect the life satisfaction of the individual. A multi-level analysis of data from the European Values Study and the AsiaBarometer confirms the micro-level hypotheses. The economic macro-level indicators also display the theoretically expected positive effect on life satisfaction in the multivariate analysis of Asian and European data. By contrast, the direct cross-level effects of a society’s national integration and particularly of religion do not become significant in Europe, yet they are highly significant in Asia. This strong influence of the social and cultural context in Asia can be interpreted in two different ways.

Keywords

Happiness Subjective wellbeing Life satisfaction Asia Europe Culture Multi-level-analysis 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Management, Economics and Social SciencesUniversity of CologneCologneGermany

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