The Determinants of Happiness in Turkey: Evidence from City-Level Data

The dashboard on an airplane contains even more indicators, and an economy is considerably more complex than an airplane.

(Goodwin, Nelson, & Harris, 2008)


This paper analyses the determinants of happiness in Turkey between 2004 and 2013 by relying on TURKSTAT’s Life Satisfaction Surveys. It contributes to the literature by employing a set of novel variables and a larger dataset which became representative at city-level in 2013. Some of the interesting findings are as follows: degree of hope is found to be the strongest estimator of happiness which was neglected in previous studies; job satisfaction is as important as being employed. Similarly, being married makes people happier only if they are satisfied from their marriage. Education brings more happiness only if it helps to increase income. Moreover, our results support Easterlin Paradox (Nations Househ Econ Growth Essays Honor Moses Abramovitz 1974. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-205050-3.50008-7). We have shown that happiness and income share a potent and positive relationship when yearly or pooled micro datasets are analysed, which has not been observed in macro data.

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  1. 1.

    See Goodwin et al. (2008, pp. 132–133) for a detailed list of critiques on GDP.

  2. 2.

    See Veenhoven (2000a) for a review on different definitions of happiness.

  3. 3.

    Authors would like to thank to the anonymous referees for commenting on additional robustness checks.

  4. 4.

    Additionally, heteroscedasticity-corrected, cluster-corrected and bootstrap-corrected standard errors are estimated to see if there is considerable size effect or heteroscedasticity among data. P-values were not subject of such changes and the standard model is reported.

  5. 5.

    Regressions based on yearly datasets (such as using data only from year 2004) are not reported due to space constraints and but will be made available upon request.

  6. 6.

    LSS contains similar questions on, such as, subjective welfare, household income sufficiency and household income satisfaction. Therefore, separate regressions with four income variables and other variables had been run (not reported here) in order to detect the best performing income variable and based on Akaike Information Criterion and Pseudo-R2 values, household income satisfaction variable is found out to be the best performing and is employed in the ordered logistic regressions. For a robustness check, regressions with income brackets are also presented in Appendix A, Table 4.

  7. 7.

    See Dumludag (2013) and Caner (2014) for a detailed review on income comparison effects in Turkey.

  8. 8.

    It can be argued that longitudinal data is best for analysing personal effects. Yet that type of data is not available in Turkey; and it is still possible to reach some outcomes with TURKSTAT LSS data.

  9. 9.

    See Table 5 in the Appendix A for the results of this alternative regression.

  10. 10.

    City and region dummies are reported in Appendix B, Table 6.


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We would like to thank to Devrim Dumludağ and Burç Ülengin for their invaluable comments during the study and to Uğurcan Acar for his help in compiling some parts of the data. We also would like to thank the anonymous referees for his suggestions on improving the analysis.

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Correspondence to Kâzım Anıl Eren.


Appendix A: Robustness Checks

See Tables 4 and 5.

Table 4 The results of ordered logistic regression with income brackets
Table 5 The results of ordered logistic regression without self-reported health

Appendix B: City and Region Coefficients

See Table 6.

Table 6 City and region coefficients based on 2013 C and 2013 R models

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Eren, K.A., Aşıcı, A.A. The Determinants of Happiness in Turkey: Evidence from City-Level Data. J Happiness Stud 18, 647–669 (2017).

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  • Determinants of happiness
  • Ordered logistic regression
  • Degree of hope

JEL Classification

  • D69
  • I31
  • J12
  • O12