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Is Happiness Different From Flourishing? Cross-Country Evidence from the ESS


  • Andrew E. Clark
  • Claudia Senik


This paper appeals to novel survey information on over 30 000 individuals in 21 European countries to address an important and controversial question with respect to well-being: Do cognitive, hedonic and eudaimonic measures of well-being reflect very different aspects of individual quality of life? Or, more precisely, do the subjective appreciation of these dimensions by individuals exhibit different patterns? Our empirical results first reveal a very significant correlation between happiness and life satisfaction. Second, someone with high standard “hedonic” well-being (happiness or life satisfaction) is likely to have high eudaimonic well-being as well (flourishing, vitality, resilience and functioning). In addition, the factors that are correlated with the different measures of well-being seem to be very similar at the individual level. For example, marriage, higher income and greater education are associated with greater satisfaction, but also with higher levels of flourishing, vitality, resilience and functioning. This fit is not perfect, however, and men notably report lower levels of standard well-being measures, but higher eudaimonic well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew E. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2011. "Is Happiness Different From Flourishing? Cross-Country Evidence from the ESS," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 121(1), pages 17-34.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:repdal:redp_211_0017

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Walter Bossert & Satya R. Chakravarty & Conchita D'Ambrosio, 2009. "Multidimensional poverty and material deprivation," Working Papers 129, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew E. Clark & Tom Lee, 2017. "Early-life correlates of later-life well-being: Evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study," PSE Working Papers halshs-01570052, HAL.
    2. Piper, Alan T., 2012. "A Happiness Test of Human Capital Theory," MPRA Paper 43496, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. O'Donnell, Gus & Oswald, Andrew J., 2015. "National well-being policy and a weighted approach to human feelings," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 59-70.
    4. repec:eee:joecag:v:6:y:2015:i:c:p:68-78 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Guven, Cahit & Senik, Claudia & Stichnoth, Holger, 2012. "You can’t be happier than your wife. Happiness gaps and divorce," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 110-130.
    6. Baruch, Yehuda & Grimland, Shmuel & Vigoda-Gadot, Eran, 2014. "Professional vitality and career success: Mediation, age and outcomes," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 518-527.
    7. Conal Smith & Christopher Mackie, 2015. "Conceptualizing Subjective Well-Being and its Many Dimensions – Implications for Data Collection in Official Statistics and for Policy Relevance," Statistics in Transition new series, Główny Urząd Statystyczny (Polska), vol. 16(3), pages 335-372, September.
    8. Cristina Roxana Tanasescu & Camelia Oprean, 2013. "Towards a sustainable well-being," Review of Applied Socio-Economic Research, Pro Global Science Association, vol. 5(1), pages 170-178, June.
    9. Takuya Ishino & Akiko Kamesaka & Toshiya Murai & Masao Ogaki, "undated". "Effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake on Subjective Well-Being," Working Papers e89, Tokyo Center for Economic Research.
    10. repec:spr:jhappi:v:18:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9797-y is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Andrew E. Clark, 2015. "SWB as a Measure of Individual Well-Being," PSE Working Papers halshs-01134483, HAL.
    12. Senik, Claudia, 2014. "The French unhappiness puzzle: The cultural dimension of happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 379-401.
    13. Andrew E. Clark, 2015. "SWB as a Measure of Individual Well-Being," Working Papers halshs-01134483, HAL.
    14. repec:exl:29stat:v:16:y:2015:i:3:p:335-372 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Boyd-Swan, Casey & Herbst, Chris M. & Ifcher, John & Zarghamee, Homa, 2016. "The earned income tax credit, mental health, and happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 18-38.
    16. Berlin, Martin & Fors, Filip, 2017. "The Association Between Life Satisfaction and Affective Well-Being," Working Paper Series 1/2017, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    17. Anand, Paul & Roope, Laurence & Peichl, Andreas, 2016. "Wellbeing Evidence for the Assessment of Progress," IZA Discussion Papers 9840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Takuya Ishino & Akiko Kamesaka & Toshiya Murai & Masao Ogaki, 2014. "Effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake on Subjective Well-Being," Keio-IES Discussion Paper Series 2014-010, Institute for Economics Studies, Keio University.


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