Social Indicators Research

, Volume 113, Issue 1, pp 451–470 | Cite as

Socio-demographic Components of Eudaimonic Well-Being: A Survey in an Italian Province

  • Emanuele Blasi
  • Maria NuceraEmail author
  • Clara Cicatiello
  • Silvio Franco


This work is part of a well-established strand of study about quality of life (QoL) and the different methodologies for its quantitative evaluation. The study focuses on a specific dimension of QoL, that of the eudaimonic well-being (EuWB), with two main objectives. On the one hand, we try to clarify how EuWB can be framed in the systematizations of QoL proposed in the literature. Its relation to the concept of subjective well-being is discussed, and the need to distinguish such approach from the so-called hedonic dimension of QoL is highlighted. On the other hand, the paper aims to investigate the link between the perception of EuWB and individual socio-demographic characteristics through a quantitative analysis based on the results of a survey. The survey carried out in Central Italy in 2010, involved a sample of 1,134 individuals, which are classified according to their perception of EuWB. An analysis of the socio-demographic characteristics within the EuWB groups is then performed in order to investigate the association between these variables and the perception of EuWB. Results are discussed with respect to the evidences from similar surveys found in the literature. The analysis confirms the influence of some variables on the perception of EuWB, yet it underlines the difficulty in comparing different studies on QoL without clarifying to which of the different declensions of this concept the survey methodology refers to.


Quality of life Eudaimonic well-being Well-being measures Multivariate analysis 


  1. Acock, A. C., & Hurlbert, J. S. (1993). Social networks, marital status, and well-being. Social Networks, 15(3), 309–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allardt, E. (1976). Dimensions of welfare in a comparative scandinavian study. Acta Sociologica, 19(3), 227–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderberg, M. R. (1973). Cluster analysis for applications. New York, NY: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  4. Berger-Schmitt R. & Noll H. H. (2000). Conceptual framework and structure of a European system of social indicators. Eu Reporting Working Paper No. 9, Centre for Survey Research and methodology (ZUMA)—Social Indicators Department, Mannheim.Google Scholar
  5. Blanchflower, D. G. (1996). Youth labor markets in twenty three countries: A comparison using micro data. In D. Stern (Ed.), School to work policies and practices in thirteen countries. Clesskill: Hampton Press.Google Scholar
  6. Blanchflower, D. G., & Oswald, A. J. (2008). Is well-being U-shaped over the life cycle? Social Science and Medicine, 66(8), 1733–1749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blasi, E., Cicatiello, C., Franco, S., Galli, F., & Sorrentino, A. (2010). Invecchiamento della popolazione e ruolo dell’agricoltura nello sviluppo locale: Il caso della provincia di Viterbo. In B. Boccaletti (Ed.), Cambiamenti nel sistema alimentare. Nuovi problemi, strategie, politiche (pp. 193–208). Milano: FrancoAngeli.Google Scholar
  8. Brickman, P., & Campbell, D. T. (1971). Hedonic relativism and planning the good society. In M. H. Appley (Ed.), Adaptation-level-theory (pp. 287–302). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bronstein, M. H., Davidson, L., Keyes, C. L. M., & Moore, K. A. (Eds.). (2003). Well-being: Positive development across the life course. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  10. Bruni, L., & Zamagni, S. (2004). Economia Civile, efficienze, equità, felicità pubblica. Mulino: Bologna: II.Google Scholar
  11. Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., & Rodgers, W. L. (1976). The quality of American life: Perceptions, evaluations, and satisfactions. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  12. Christoph, B., & Noll, H. (2003). Subjective well-being in the European Union during the 90ies. Social Indicators Research, 64(3), 521–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clark, A. E., & Oswald, A. J. (1994). Unhappiness and unemployment. Economic Journal, 104(424), 648–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Costa, P. T., Terracciano, A., & McCrae, R. R. (2001). Gender differences in personality traits across cultures: Robust and surprising findings. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(2), 322–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life. New York: BasicBooks.Google Scholar
  16. Dale, B. (1980). Subjective and objective social indicators in studies of regional social well-being. Regional Studies, 14(6), 503–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Darity, W., & Goldsmith, A. H. (1996). Social psychology, unemployment and macroeconomics. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 10(1), 121–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Delle Fave, A., Brdar, I., Freire, T., Vella-Brodrick, D., & Wissing, M. P. (2011). The eudaimonic and hedonic components of happiness: Qualitative and quantitative findings. Social Indicators Research, 100(2), 185–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Di Tella, R., MacCulloch, R. J., & Oswald, A. J. (2001). Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness. American Economic Review, 91(1), 335–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95(3), 542–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Diener, E. (2000). Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and a proposal for a national index. American Psycologist, 55(1), 34–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Diener, E., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2002). Will money increase subjective well-being? A literature review and guide to needed research. Social Indicators Research, 57(2), 119–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Diener, E., & Diener, C. (1995). The wealth of nations revisited: Income and quality of life. Social Indicators Research, 36(3), 275–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Diener, E., & Oishi, S. (2000). Money and happiness: Income and subjective well-being across nations. In E. M. Suh (Ed.), Culture and subjective well-being (pp. 185–218). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  26. Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2003). Personality, culture, and subjective well-being: Emotional and cognitive evaluations of life. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 403–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Diener, E., Sandvik, E., Seidlitz, L., & Diener, M. (1993). The relationship between income and subjective well-being: Relative or absolute. Social Indicators Research, 28(3), 195–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Diener, R., & Suh, E. (1997). Measuring quality of life: Economic, social and subjective indicators. Social Indicators Research, 40(1–2), 189–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Easterlin, R. A. (1974). Does economic growth improve the human lot? In P. A. David & M. W. Reder (Eds.), Nations and households in economic growth: Essays in honor of Moses Abramovitz (pp. 89–125). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  30. Easterlin, R. A. (1995). Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all? Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 27(1), 35–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Easterlin, R. A. (2000). Life cycle welfare: Trends and differences. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2(1), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Easterlin, R. A. (2001). Income and happiness: Towards a unified theory. Economic Journal, 111(473), 465–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ellison, C. G. (1991). Religious involvement and subjective well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 32(1), 80–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Endicott, J., Nee, J., Harrison, W., & Blumenthal, R. (1993). Quality of life enjoyment and satisfaction questionnaire: A new measure. Psychopharmacol Bullettin, 29(2), 321–326.Google Scholar
  35. Frey, B. S., & Stutzer, A. (2002). What can economists learn from happiness research? Journal of Economic Literature, 40(2), 402–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Gallagher, M. W., Lopez, S. J., & Preacher, K. J. (2009). The hierarchical structure of well-being. Journal of Personality, 77(4), 1025–1049.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Gallie, D. (2002). The quality of working life in welfare strategy. In G. Esping-Andersen, D. Gallie, A. Hemerijck, & J. Myles (Eds.), Why we need a new welfare state (pp. 96–127). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Glenn, N. D., & Weaver, C. N. (1981). The contribution of marital happiness to global happiness. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 43(2), 161–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. González Gutiérrez, J. L., Jiménez, B. M., Garrosa Hernández, E., & Penacoba Puente, C. (2005). Personality and subjective well-being: Big five correlates and demographic variables. Personality and Individual Differences, 38(7), 1561–1569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Grasso, M., & Canova, L. (2008). An assessment of the quality of life in the European Union based on the social indicators approach. Social Indicators Research, 87(1), 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Haller, M., & Hadler, M. (2006). How social relations and structures can produce happiness and unhappiness: An international comparative analysis. Social Indicators Research, 75(2), 169–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Haring, M. J., Stock, W. A., & Okun, M. A. (1984). A research synthesis of gender and social class as correlates of subjective well-being. Human Relations, 37(8), 645–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Harrison, M. O., Koenig, H. G., Hays, J. C., Eme-Akwari, A. G., & Pargament, K. I. (2001). The epidemiology of religious coping: A review of recent literature. International Review of Psychiatry, 13(2), 86–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hayo, B., & Seifert, W. (2003). Subjective economic well-being in Eastern Europe. Journal of Economic Psychology, 24(3), 329–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Headey, B., Veenhoven, R., & Wearing, A. (1991). Top-down versus bottom-up theories of subjective well-being. Social Indicators Research, 24(1), 81–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Höllinger, F., & Haller, M. (1990). Kinship and social networks in modern societies: A cross-cultural comparison among seven nations. European Sociological Review, 6(2), 103–124.Google Scholar
  47. Hooghe, M., & Vanhoutte, B. (2011). Subjective well-being and social capital in Belgian communities. The impact of community characteristics on subjective well-being indicators in Belgium. Social Indicators Research, 100(1), 17–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Hunsberger, B. E., & Altemeyer, B. (2006). Atheists: A groundbreaking study of America’s nonbelievers. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  49. Inglehart, R. (1977). The silent revolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Inglehart, R. (1990). Culture shift in advanced industrial society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Inglehart, R., & Rabier, J. R. (1986). Aspirations adapt to situations – but why are the Belgians so much happier than the French? A cross-cultural analysis of the subjective quality of life. In M. A. Frank (Ed.), Research on the quality of life (pp. 1–56). Michigan: The Survey Research Center/Institute for Social Research.Google Scholar
  52. ISTAT. (2001). 8° Censimento generale dell’Industria e dei Servizi 2001, Distretti industriali e sistemi locali del lavoro 2001.Google Scholar
  53. Jahoda, M., Lazarsfeld, P., & Zeisel, H. (1971). Marienthal, the sociography of an unemployed community. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  54. Kahneman, D., Diener, E., & Schwarz, N. (1999). Well-being: The foundation of hedonic psychology. New York: Russel Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  55. Kahneman, D., & Krueger, A. B. (2006). Developments in the measurement of subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(1), 3–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Kahneman, D., Krueger, A. B., Schkade, D., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. (2004). Toward national well-being accounts. American Economic Review, 94(2), 429–434.Google Scholar
  57. Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (1996). Further examining the American dream: Differential correlates of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Personality and Social Psychology, 22(3), 280–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Kaufman, L., & Rousseeuw, P. J. (1990). Finding Groups in Data: An Introduction to Cluster Analysis. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Koenig, H. G., George, L. K., & Siegler, I. C. (1988). The use of religion and other emotion-regulating coping strategies among older adults. Gerontologist, 28(3), 303–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Latten, J. J. (1989). Life-course and satisfaction, equal for every-one? Social Indicators Research, 21(6), 599–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Lucas, R. E., Clark, A. E., Georgellis, Y., & Diener, E. (2003). Reexamining adaptation and the set point model of happiness: Reactions to changes in marital status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(3), 527–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper & Bros.Google Scholar
  63. Mastekaasa, A. (1993). Marital status and subjective well-being: A changing relationship? Social Indicators Research, 29(3), 249–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. McEwen, J. (1993). The Nottingham Health Profile. In S. R. Walker & R. M. Rosser (Eds.), Quality of life assessment: Key issues in the 1990s (pp. 111–130). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Meisenhelder, J. B., & Chandler, E. N. (2000). Faith, prayer, and health outcomes in elderly Native Americans. Clinical Nursing Research, 9(2), 191–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Michalos, A. C., Hubley, A. M., Zumbo, B. D., & Hemingway, D. (2001). Health and other aspects of the quality of life of older people. Social Indicators Research, 54(3), 239–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Murphy, P. E., Ciarrocchi, J. W., Piedmont, R. L., Cheston, S., Peyrot, M., & Fitchett, G. (2000). The relation of religious belief and practices, depression, and hopelessness in persons with clinical depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(6), 1102–1106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. OECD. (2011). Society at a glance. OECD Social indicators. Resource document. OECD.,3746,en_2649_37419_2671576_1_1_1_37419,00.html, Accessed 10 September 2011.
  69. Osberg, L. (1985). The measurement of economic welfare In D. Laidler (coordinator), Approaches to economic well-being. Vol. 26 of the Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospect for Canada (pp. 49–89). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  70. Osberg, L., & Sharpe, A. (2002). International comparisons of trend in economic well-being. Social Indicators Research, 58(1–3), 349–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Oswald, A. J. (1997). Subjective well-being and economic performance. The Economic Journal, 107(445), 1815–1831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Parker, M., Roff, L. L., Klemmack, D. L., Koenig, H. G., Baker, P., & Allman, R. M. (2003). Religiosity and mental health in southern, community-dwelling older adults. Aging and Mental Health, 7(5), 390–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Pollner, M. (1989). Divine relations, social relations, and well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 30(1), 92–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Rampichini, C., & Schifini d’Andrea, S. (1997). A hierarchical ordinal probit model for the analysis of life satisfaction in Italy. Social Indicators Research, 44(1), 41–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Ross, C. E. (1990). Religion and psychological distress. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 29(2), 236–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Ruini, C., Ottolini, F., Rafanelli, C., Ryff, C., & Fava, G. A. (2003). Italian validation of psychological well-being scales (PWB). Rivista di Psichiatria, 38(3), 117–130.Google Scholar
  77. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Ryff, C. D. (1989). In the eye of the beholder: Views of the psychological well-being among middle-aged and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 4(2), 195–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Ryff, C. D., & Keyes, C. L. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(4), 719–727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Ryff, C. D., & Singer, B. (2006). Best news yet on the six-factor model of well-being. Social Indicators Research, 35(4), 1103–1119.Google Scholar
  81. Shkolnik, T., Weiner, C., Malik, L., & Festinger, Y. (2001). The effect of Jewish religiosity of elderly Israelis on their life satisfaction, health, function and activity. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 16(3), 201–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Sirgy, M. J. (2011). Theoretical perspective guiding QOL indicator project. Social Indicators Research, 103(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Smith, J. (2003). Guide to the construction and methodology of the index of Economic Well-being. Ottawa, Ontario: Centre for the study of living standards.Google Scholar
  84. Stiglitz, J. E., Sen, A., Fitoussi, J. P. (2009). Report by the commission on the measurement of the economic performance and social progress. Resource document. Commission on the Measurement of the Economic Performance and Social Progress., Accessed September 10, 2011.
  85. Stock, W. A., Okun, M. A., Haring, M. J., & Witter, R. A. (1983). Age and subjective well-being: a meta-analysis. In R. J. Light (Ed.), Evaluation studies: Review annual (Vol. 8, pp. 279–302). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  86. Tuckey, J. W. (1977). Exploratory Data Analysis. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  87. Veenhoven, R. (1994). Is happiness a trait? Tests of the theory that a better society does not make people any happier. Social Indicators Research, 32(2), 101–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Veenhoven, R. (2002). Why social policy needs subjective indicators. Social Indicators Research, 58(1–3), 33–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. WHOQOL Groups. (1994). The development of the World Health Organization quality of life assessment instrument (the WHOQOL). In J. Orley & W. Kuyen (Eds.), Quality of life assessment: International perspectives (pp. 41–60). Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Winkelmann, L., & Winkelmann, R. (1998). Why are the unemployed so unhappy? Evidence from panel data. Economica, 65(257), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Wood, W., Stock, W. A., Okun, M. A., & Haring, M. J. (1989). Sex differences in positive well-being: A consideration of emotional style and marital status. Psychological Bulletin, 106(2), 332–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Zapf, W. (1984). Individuelle Wohlfahrt: Lebensbedingungen und wahrgenommene Lebensqualität. In W. Glatzer & W. Zapf (Eds.), Lebensqualität in der Bundesrepublik. Objektive Lebensbedingungen und subjektives Wohlempfinden (pp. 13–26). Frankfurt am Main: Campus.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emanuele Blasi
    • 1
  • Maria Nucera
    • 1
    Email author
  • Clara Cicatiello
    • 1
  • Silvio Franco
    • 1
  1. 1.Department in Economics and ManagementUniversity of TusciaViterboItaly

Personalised recommendations