Social Indicators Research

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 343–356 | Cite as

Unifying Livability and Comparison Theory: Cross-National Time-Series Analysis of Life-Satisfaction

  • Michael R. Hagerty


The two major theories of QOL judgment – livability and comparison theories – are tested. The first states that only absolute level of objective variables will affect QOL, whereas the second states that only differences in objective variables will. A 25-year, 8-nation database was developed that allows more powerful tests than previous research. Consistent with previous studies and with livability theory, absolute level of GDP/person had the largest effect on life-satisfaction. Contrary to previous research, a reliable effect was also found for differences in GDP/person and the consumer price index. The length of these effects is 9 or 10 quarters. That is, consumers take into account changes as far back as 2 or 2 1/2 years, in addition to their absolute level of GDP/person.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Chin-Hon-Foei, Sasqia: 1989, 'Life satisfaction in the EC countries 1975– 1984', in R. Veenhoven (ed.), Did the Crisis Really Hurt? (University Press, Rotterdam).Google Scholar
  2. Diener, E., M. Diener and C. Diener: 1995, 'Factors predicting the subjective well-being of nations', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69, pp. 851–864.Google Scholar
  3. Diener, E., E. Sandvik, L. Seidlitz and M. Diener: 1993, 'The relationship between income and subjective well-being: Relative or absolute?', Social Indicators Research 28, pp. 195–223.Google Scholar
  4. Fair, R. C.: 1978, 'The effect of economic events on votes for president', The Review of Economics and Statistics 60, pp. 159–173.Google Scholar
  5. Headey, B. and A. Wearing: 1989, 'Personality, life events, and subjective wellbeing: Toward a dynamic equilibrium model', Social Indicators Research 57, pp. 731–739.Google Scholar
  6. Lance, C. E., A. G. Mallard and A. C. Michalos: 1995, 'Tests of the causal directions of global-life facet satisfaction relationships', Social Indicators Research 34, pp. 69–92.Google Scholar
  7. OECD, Organization For Economic Cooperation and Development: 1996, Quarterly National Accounts (OECD, Paris).Google Scholar
  8. Varey, C. A. and D. Kahneman: 1992, 'Experiences extended across time: Evaluation of moments and episodes', Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 5, pp. 169–185.Google Scholar
  9. Veenhoven, R.: 1993, Happiness in Nations: Subjective Appreciation of Life in 55 Nations 1946–1990 (RISBO, Erasmus University, Rotterdam. Available by FTP).Google Scholar
  10. Veenhoven, R. with the assistance of J. Ehrhardt: 1995, 'The cross-national pattern of happiness: Test of predictions implied in three theories of happiness', Social Indicators Research 34, pp. 33–68.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael R. Hagerty
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of ManagementUniversity of California, DavisDavis

Personalised recommendations