Is the Just Man a Happy Man? An Empirical Study of the Relationship Between Ethics and Subjective Well-Being
AbstractIn this paper I consider the question of whether ethical decision-making affects a person’s happiness. Using cross-country data from the World Values Survey, I find that people who agree that it is never justifiable to engage in ethically-questionable behaviors report that they are more satisfied with their life than people who are more tolerant of unethical conduct, even after controlling for other factors known to affect self-reported happiness. The size of the ethics effect is roughly similar to that of a modest increase in income, being married and attending church, while the effect is smaller than that of having poor health or being dissatisfied with one’s personal finances. These results are robust across the four countries studied (the US, Canada, Mexico and Brazil), although there is variation in the ethics and happiness relationship across countries. One implication of this study is that a consideration of a society’s ethical norms will improve our understanding of the subjective well-being of people.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Missouri Columbia, Department of Agricultural Economics in its series Working Papers with number 92617.
Date of creation: 02 Dec 2009
Date of revision:
Happiness; subjective well-being; ethics; World Values Survey; Labor and Human Capital; D63; D99; Z13;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
- D99 - Microeconomics - - Intertemporal Choice - - - Other
- Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-08-21 (All new papers)
- NEP-HAP-2010-08-21 (Economics of Happiness)
- NEP-HPE-2010-08-21 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
- NEP-LTV-2010-08-21 (Unemployment, Inequality & Poverty)
- NEP-NEU-2010-08-21 (Neuroeconomics)
- NEP-SOC-2010-08-21 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- van Praag, B. M. S. & Frijters, P. & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A., 2003.
"The anatomy of subjective well-being,"
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization,
Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 29-49, May.
- Bernard M. S. van Praag & P. Frijters & Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2001. "The Anatomy of Subjective Well-Being," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 265, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
- Bernard M.S. van Praag & P. Frijters & A. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2002. "The Anatomy of Subjective Well-being," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-022/3, Tinbergen Institute.
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