Well-being in North America

  • Annie AustinEmail author
Part of the Wellbeing in Politics and Policy book series (WPP)


This chapter provides a broad view of the main values operant at the political and population levels in North America: the USA and Canada. First, the theory of Political Liberalism and its modern North American interpretation is discussed. Next, the central principles of important political and legal instruments are identified, and “second-wave” well-being initiatives are examined. Finally, evidence from the World Values Survey reveals mass priorities in this region. Political liberalism provides the basis of political conceptions of the good in North America, with individual freedom as the defining principle. This liberalism is manifested differently in the USA and Canada, with more policy focus on social and economic rights in Canada. Despite worries about the individualism inherent in classical liberalism, findings suggest that, in practice, liberalism does not necessarily entail the devaluation of sociality; social relationships are a mass priority in both countries. Common priorities emerging from second-wave initiatives include Material living standards, Work, Education, Health, and Communities and families, and the World Values Survey shows that family relationships are a top priority.


Values North America Liberalism Well-being 


  1. CIW. (2016). How are Canadians Really Doing? The 2016 CIW National Report. Waterloo, ON: Canadian Index of Wellbeing and University of Waterloo.Google Scholar
  2. Inglehart, R., Haerpfer,C., Moreno, A., Welzel, C., Kizilova, K., Diez-Medrano, J., et al. (Eds.). (2014). World Values Survey: Round Six—Country-Pooled Datafile Version. Madrid: JD Systems Institute.
  3. Rogers, A. L., & Ryan, C. L. (2007). Extended Measures of Well-Being: Living Conditions in the United States, 2003. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau. Accessed 10 February 2019.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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