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The Missing Link: Deficits of Country-Level Studies. A Review of 22 Articles Explaining Life Satisfaction

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  • Alexandra Nonnenmacher

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  • Jürgen Friedrichs
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    Abstract

    To explain country differences in an analytical or structural dependent variable, the application of a macro–micro-model containing contextual hypotheses is necessary. Our methodological study examines whether empirical studies apply such a model. We propose that a theoretical base for country differences is well described in multilevel studies, but aggregate and individual data analyses fail to specify contextual hypotheses ex ante (in the theory section of an article) and instead elaborate on macro–micro explanations ex post (in the discussion section). To test our assumptions, we analyzed 22 studies published in journals cited in the Social Science Citation Index between 2007 and 2010, which compare countries with respect to life satisfaction. Results are in accordance with our expectations. We conclude that cross-country comparisons should apply a macro–micro-model theoretically and empirically, if possible, and include the meso level, if appropriate. In case of insufficient data (i. e. only individual level or aggregate level data), applying a macro–micro-model theoretically may prevent premature conclusions. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Indicators Research.

    Volume (Year): 110 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 3 (February)
    Pages: 1221-1244

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:110:y:2013:i:3:p:1221-1244

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    Web page: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/11135

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    Related research

    Keywords: Life satisfaction; Happiness; Well-being; Macro–micro-model; Cross-country comparison; Methodological study;

    References

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    1. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," CESifo Working Paper Series 246, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Is Well-Being U-Shaped over the Life Cycle?," IZA Discussion Papers 3075, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Christian Bjørnskov & Axel Dreher & Justina Fischer, 2008. "Cross-country determinants of life satisfaction: exploring different determinants across groups in society," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 119-173, January.
    4. Jan Delhey, 2010. "From Materialist to Post-Materialist Happiness? National Affluence and Determinants of Life Satisfaction in Cross-National Perspective," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 97(1), pages 65-84, May.
    5. Bjornskov, Christian & Fischer, Justina AV & Dreher, Axel, 2008. "Formal Institutions and Subjective Well-Being: Revisiting the Cross-Country Evidence," MPRA Paper 17159, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jul 2009.
    6. Ed Diener & Eunkook Suh & Heidi Smith & Liang Shao, 1995. "National differences in reported subjective well-being: Why do they occur?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 7-32, January.
    7. Claire Wallace & Florian Pichler, 2009. "More Participation, Happier Society? A Comparative Study of Civil Society and the Quality of Life," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 93(2), pages 255-274, September.
    8. Rati Ram, 2009. "Government spending and happiness of the population: additional evidence from large cross-country samples," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 138(3), pages 483-490, March.
    9. Ed Diener, 1994. "Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 103-157, February.
    10. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Abdallah, Saamah & Thompson, Sam & Marks, Nic, 2008. "Estimating worldwide life satisfaction," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 35-47, March.
    12. Rati Ram, 2010. "Social Capital and Happiness: Additional Cross-Country Evidence," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 409-418, August.
    13. Christian Bjørnskov & Axel Dreher & Justina A. V. Fischer, 2005. "The bigger the better? Evidence of the effect of government size on life satisfaction around the world," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 05/44, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    14. Esping-Andersen, Gosta, 1999. "Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198742005.
    15. Astra Bonini, 2008. "Cross-National Variation in Individual Life Satisfaction: Effects of National Wealth, Human Development, and Environmental Conditions," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 87(2), pages 223-236, June.
    16. Donald Robertson & James Symons, 2003. "Do Peer Groups Matter? Peer Group versus Schooling Effects on Academic Attainment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 70(277), pages 31-53, February.
    17. Heinz Welsch, 2008. "The welfare costs of corruption," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(14), pages 1839-1849.
    18. Toke S. Aidt & Martin Gassebner, 2007. "Do Autocratic States Trade Less?," KOF Working papers 07-175, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    19. David Dorn & Justina Fischer & Gebhard Kirchgässner & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2007. "Is It Culture or Democracy? The Impact of Democracy and Culture on Happiness," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 82(3), pages 505-526, July.
    20. Bjørnskov, Christian & Drehe, Axel & Fischer, Justina A.V., 2008. "On decentralization and life satisfaction," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 147-151, April.
    21. Sonja Drobnič & Barbara Beham & Patrick Präg, 2010. "Good Job, Good Life? Working Conditions and Quality of Life in Europe," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 99(2), pages 205-225, November.
    22. Engelbrecht, Hans-Jürgen, 2009. "Natural capital, subjective well-being, and the new welfare economics of sustainability: Some evidence from cross-country regressions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 380-388, December.
    23. George C. Galster, 2008. "Quantifying the Effect of Neighbourhood on Individuals: Challenges, Alternative Approaches, and Promising Directions," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 128(1), pages 7-48.
    24. Elia Kacapyr, 2008. "Cross-country determinants of satisfaction with life," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 35(6), pages 400-416, May.
    25. Johann Graf Lambsdorff, 2003. "How Corruption Affects Productivity," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(4), pages 457-474, November.
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