Happiness as an Expression of Freedom and Self-Determination

A Comparative Multilevel Analysis
  • Max Haller
  • Markus Hadler
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 24)


In this paper, subjective well-being, as measured by survey questions on life satisfaction and happiness, is investigated from a sociological-comparative point of view. The central thesis is that happiness will be greater the more freedom a person has in her/his life decisions. It is hypothesized, therefore, that happiness will be higher in all those social contexts (micro and macro) which provide a person with greater freedom. Hence, happiness should be higher among the employed, among persons in higher positions and with higher incomes, and happiness should also be higher in free market and democratic, and in less stratified societies. A comparative empirical analysis (multilevel regression) is carried out, using survey data on 41 nations from the World Value Survey 1995–97. The finding that happiness is related significantly to the degree of individual freedom is fully confirmed. It also has been proven that people who live in circumstances providing more freedom of personal choice are happier. However, macro-social conditions are not directly relevant for personal freedom and happiness; this happens only through their perception and through their expected change (improvement or stagnation) in the future.


Life Satisfaction Latin American Country Economic Freedom Financial Situation World Value Survey 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Max Haller
    • 1
  • Markus Hadler
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GrazAustria

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