Social Indicators Research

, Volume 130, Issue 1, pp 371–388 | Cite as

The Importance of Freedom in the East and the West Over Time: A Meta-analytic Study of Predictors of Well-Being

  • Naoki NakazatoEmail author
  • Ken’ichiro Nakashima
  • Yasuko Morinaga


We examined whether sense of freedom is an important predictor of well-being, as compared to other typical predictors, across different periods in modern times (1981–2011), and in the East and the West. We applied a meta-analytical approach to the results of a series of multiple regression analyses conducted on six individual waves of Japanese data sets and five individual waves of American data sets from the World Values Survey. The final sample comprised 6389 Japanese and 6176 American respondents during all study periods. The main findings were that sense of freedom was one of the strongest predictors of life satisfaction (a) among several predictors (i.e., health condition, household income, marital status), (b) consistently across waves, and (c) in both Japan and the United States, as typical collectivistic Eastern and individualistic Western countries. We conclude that the greater importance of sense of freedom in ensuring well-being than other typical predictors is applicable to individuals across time and cultures.


Well-being Life satisfaction Sense of freedom Cross-cultural comparison Meta-analysis 


Author Contributions

N. Nakazato developed the study concept. All authors contributed to the study design. N. Nakazato retrieved data from the World Values Survey website and performed the data analysis and interpretation under the supervision of K. Nakashima and Y. Morinaga. N. Nakazato drafted the manuscript, and K. Nakashima and Y. Morinaga provided critical revisions. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.


We thank Hitomi Sugiura for teaching us how to conduct a meta-analysis using the statistical software R.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naoki Nakazato
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ken’ichiro Nakashima
    • 1
  • Yasuko Morinaga
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of EducationHiroshima UniversityHigashi-HiroshimaJapan

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