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The cultural foundations of happiness

Author

Listed:
  • Conzo, Pierluigi
  • Aassve, Arnstein
  • Fuochi, Giulia
  • Mencarini, Letizia

Abstract

The paper provides a framework for how culture affects happiness. According to self-determination theory, well-being is driven by the satisfaction of three basic psychological needs: autonomy, relatedness and competence. We assess if, and to what extent, trust and the values of obedience and respect influence Europeans’ satisfaction of these needs, controlling for income and education. We find a positive and significant impact for generalized morality (high trust and respect, low obedience), which is robust to different checks for endogeneity, including instrumental variable regressions at country, regional and individual level. Results suggest that lack of trust, high obedience and low respect not only reduce the wealth of nations, but also constrain the satisfaction of basic psychological needs, thereby hindering the individuals’ fulfilment of happiness.

Suggested Citation

  • Conzo, Pierluigi & Aassve, Arnstein & Fuochi, Giulia & Mencarini, Letizia, 2017. "The cultural foundations of happiness," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 268-283.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:62:y:2017:i:c:p:268-283
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2017.08.001
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    2. Conzo, Pierluigi & Salustri, Francesco, 2019. "A war is forever: The long-run effects of early exposure to World War II on trust," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 120(C).
    3. Conzo, Pierluigi & Zotti, Roberto, 2020. "Blessed are the first: The long-term effect of birth order on trust," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C).
    4. Mavisakalyan, Astghik & Sharma, Swati & Weber, Clas, 2024. "Pro-environmental behavior and subjective well-being: Culture has a role to play," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 217(C).
    5. Mamatzakis, Emmanuel C. & Tsionas, Mike G., 2021. "Making inference of British household's happiness efficiency: A Bayesian latent model," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 294(1), pages 312-326.
    6. Orhan Koçak & Namık Ak & Sezer Seçkin Erdem & Mehmet Sinan & Mustafa Z. Younis & Abdullah Erdoğan, 2021. "The Role of Family Influence and Academic Satisfaction on Career Decision-Making Self-Efficacy and Happiness," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(11), pages 1-19, May.
    7. Ozbugday, Fatih Cemil, 2019. "Kültür ve Ekonomik Başarı [Culture and Economic Success]," MPRA Paper 96734, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Self-determination; Culture; Trust; Subjective well-being; Happiness; Life satisfaction;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • E02 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Institutions and the Macroeconomy
    • P48 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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