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Exploring Determinants of Subjective Wellbeing in OECD Countries: Evidence from the World Value Survey


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  • Sarah Fleche
  • Conal Smith
  • Piritta Sorsa


The paper explores issues with assessing wellbeing in OECD countries based on self-reported life satisfaction surveys in a pooled regression over time and countries, at the country level and the OECD average. The results, which are in line with previous studies of subjective wellbeing, show that, apart from income, the state of health, not being unemployed, and social relationships are particularly important for wellbeing with only some differences across countries. The results also show that cultural differences are not major drivers of differences in life satisfaction. Correlations between the rankings of measures of life satisfaction and other indicators of wellbeing such as the Human Development Index and Better Life Index are also relatively high. Measures of subjective wellbeing can play an important part in informing policy makers of progress with wellbeing in general, or what seems to matter for wellbeing—health, being employed and social contacts-- beyond income. Examen des déterminants subjectifs du bien-être dans les pays de l'OCDE : une caractérisation basée sur le World Values Survey Ce document examine les questions liées à l’évaluation du bien-être dans les pays de l'OCDE à partir d’enquêtes de satisfaction de la vie auto-déclarée dans une régression sur un panel de pays avec une dimension temporelle, au niveau des pays et de la moyenne de l'OCDE. Les résultats, similaires à ceux d’études antérieures sur le bien-être subjectif, montrent que, en dehors de revenu, l'état de santé, ne pas être au chômage, et les relations sociales sont particulièrement importantes pour le bien-être, avec des différences limitées entre les pays. Les résultats montrent également que les différences culturelles ne sont pas les principaux facteurs de différences dans la satisfaction de la vie. Les corrélations entre les classements des mesures de satisfaction de la vie et d'autres indicateurs de bien-être tels que l'Indice de développement humain et l'Indice Vivre mieux sont également relativement élevées. Les mesures du bien-être subjectif peuvent jouer un rôle important en informant les décideurs sur les progrès en termes de bien-être en général, ou sur ce qui semble contribuer au bien-être – la santé, être employé et les contacts sociaux – au-delà des revenus.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 921.

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Date of creation: 21 Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:921-en

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Keywords: well-being; welfare; health; comparative studies; santé; etudes comparatives; bien-être;

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  1. Cum stai cu...starea de bine?
    by Alina Botezat in Alina Botezat Blog on 2012-05-23 09:49:00
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Cited by:
  1. Romina Boarini & Margherita Comola & Femke Keulenaer & Robert Manchin & Conal Smith, 2013. "Can Governments Boost People’s Sense of Well-Being? The Impact of Selected Labour Market and Health Policies on Life Satisfaction," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 114(1), pages 105-120, October.


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