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The Paradoxical Negative Association between Subjective Well-Being and the Objective “Happiness Ranking” in Japan

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  1. The original PDF is available at: (in Japanese).

  2. Happiness Ranking in Japan” on Youtube (in Japanese).

  3. The Japanese General Social Surveys are designed and carried out by the JGSS Research Center at Osaka University of Commerce (Joint Usage / Research Center for Japanese General Social Surveys accredited by Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), in collaboration with the Institute of Social Science at the University of Tokyo.

  4. The variables were originally ordered from 1 signifying “very happy” to 5 signifying “very unhappy” but have been reordered so that a higher value corresponds to a higher level of happiness.

  5. While psychologists tend to make a distinction between happiness and life satisfaction, economists tend to use the terms interchangeably (Graham et al. 2004). Not surprisingly, answers to happiness and life satisfaction questions are closely correlated (Graham 2009).

  6. The result from the micro happiness equation is available upon request.

  7. I thank a referee for this suggestion.

  8. Consistent with this hypothesis, Alesina and La Ferrara (2002) find that individuals’ inclination to trust increases with the stability of the community in which they live.

  9. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


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I thank Todd Sorensen and two anonymous referees for helpful comments.

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Correspondence to Masanori Kuroki.

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Kuroki, M. The Paradoxical Negative Association between Subjective Well-Being and the Objective “Happiness Ranking” in Japan. Applied Research Quality Life 8, 251–259 (2013).

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  • Life Satisfaction
  • Suicide Rate
  • Crime Rate
  • Social Trust
  • High Suicide Rate