Social Indicators Research

, Volume 97, Issue 1, pp 65–84 | Cite as

From Materialist to Post-Materialist Happiness? National Affluence and Determinants of Life Satisfaction in Cross-National Perspective

  • Jan DelheyEmail author


This paper takes the theory of value change as developed by Inglehart as a point of departure and tests its implications for the determinants of human happiness. It investigates whether the importance of post-material concerns for happiness, relative to that of materialist concerns, is indeed higher in rich post-industrial societies. Personal autonomy and job creativity serve as indicators for post-materialist concerns, the income domain as an indicator for materialist concerns. The main assumption is put against data for 48 countries from wave 5 of the World Values Survey, the most recent survey, which covers the full range from poor agrarian to rich post-industrial societies. Employing a multi-level design, the paper indeed reveals a quite consistent pattern towards post-materialist happiness as we move from poor to rich societies. This pattern seems to be driven by both a devalorization of material concerns and a valorization of post-materialist concerns, although the evidence suggests that the former trend is stronger and more linear than the latter.


Happiness Subjective well-being Affluence Modernization Happiness recipe 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jacobs University Bremen, School of Humanities and Social SciencesBremenGermany

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