Culture and Well-Being

Volume 38 of the series Social Indicators Research Series pp 43-70

Factors Predicting the Subjective Well-Being of Nations

  • Ed DienerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Illinois Champaign
  • , Marissa DienerAffiliated withDepartment of Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah
  • , Carol DienerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Illinois

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Subjective well-being (SWB) in 55 nations, reported in probability surveys and a large college student sample, was correlated with social, economic, and cultural characteristics of the nations. The SWB surveys, representing nations that include three fourths of the earth’s population, showed strong convergence. Separate measures of the predictor variables also converged and formed scales with high reliability, with the exception of the comparison variables. High income, individualism, human rights, and societal equality correlated strongly with each other, and with SWB across surveys. Income correlated with SWB even after basic need fulfillment was controlled. Only individualism persistently correlated with SWB when other predictors were controlled. Cultural homogeneity, income growth, and income comparison showed either low or inconsistent relations with SWB.