IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Formal institutions and subjective well-being: Revisiting the cross-country evidence

Listed author(s):
  • Bjørnskov, Christian
  • Dreher, Axel
  • Fischer, Justina A.V.

A long tradition in economics explores the association between the quality of formal institutions and economic performance. The literature on the relationship between such institutions and happiness is, however, rather limited, and inconclusive. In this paper, we revisit the findings from recent cross-country studies on the institution-happiness association. Our findings suggest that their conclusions are qualitatively rather insensitive to the specific measure of 'happiness' used, while the associations between formal institutions and subjective well-being differ among poor and rich countries. Separating different types of institutional quality, we find that in low-income countries the effects of economic-judicial institutions on happiness dominate those of political institutions, while analyses restricted to middle- and high-income countries show strong support for an additional beneficial effect of political institutions. Our results bear important implications that we discuss in the concluding section of the paper.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0176-2680(10)00007-8
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 26 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 419-430

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:26:y:2010:i:4:p:419-430
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505544

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

as
in new window

  1. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, "undated". "Beyond Outcomes: Measuring Procedural Utility," IEW - Working Papers 076, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Dolan, Paul & Peasgood, Tessa & White, Mathew, 2008. "Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 94-122, February.
  3. Aidt, T.S. & Gassebner, M., 2007. "Do Autocratic States Trade Less?," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0742, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  4. Bjørnskov, Christian & Dreher, Axel & Fischer, Justina A.V., 2010. "Formal institutions and subjective well-being: Revisiting the cross-country evidence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 419-430, December.
  5. Yew-Kwang, Ng, 1997. "A case for Happiness, Cardinalism, and Interpersonal Comparability," Departmental Working Papers _081, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Economics.
  6. Witold J. Henisz, 2002. "The institutional environment for infrastructure investment," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 355-389.
  7. Fischer, Justina AV, 2009. "Subjective Well-Being as Welfare Measure: Concepts and Methodology," MPRA Paper 16619, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Peggy Schyns, 1998. "Crossnational Differences in Happiness: Economic and Cultural Factors Explored," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 3-26, February.
  9. Richard Layard, 2006. "Happiness and Public Policy: a Challenge to the Profession," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages 24-33, 03.
  10. Lorenz Blume & Jens Müller & Stefan Voigt, 2009. "The economic effects of direct democracy—a first global assessment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 431-461, September.
  11. Frey, Bruno S & Stutzer, Alois, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 918-938, October.
  12. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  13. Andrew E. Clark & Andréas Knabe & Steffen Rätzel, 2009. "Unemployment as a Social Norm in Germany," Post-Print halshs-00754675, HAL.
  14. Helliwell, John F., 2003. "How's life? Combining individual and national variables to explain subjective well-being," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 331-360, March.
  15. Thomas König, 2001. "Bicameralism and Party Politics in Germany: an Empirical Social Choice Analysis," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 49(3), pages 411-437, 08.
  16. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "Legal Origins," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1193-1229.
  17. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
  18. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
  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: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 82(3), pages 505-526, July.
  20. 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.
  21. Bjornskov, Christian, 2006. "The multiple facets of social capital," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 22-40, March.
  22. Bjørnskov, Christian & Drehe, Axel & Fischer, Justina A.V., 2008. "On decentralization and life satisfaction," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 147-151, April.
  23. Jakob de Haan & Susanna Lundstroem & Jan-Egbert Sturm, 2005. "Market oriented institutions and policies and economic growth: A critical survey," TWI Research Paper Series 5, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universit�t Konstanz.
  24. Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Khalid Sekkat, 2008. "Institutional Quality And Trade: Which Institutions? Which Trade?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(2), pages 227-240, 04.
  25. Berggren, Niclas, 2003. "The Benefits of Economic Freedom: A Survey," Ratio Working Papers 4, The Ratio Institute.
  26. John F. Helliwell & Haifang Huang, 2006. "How's Your Government? International Evidence Linking Good Government and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 11988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Richard Feinberg, 2006. "Presidential mandates and ministerial institutions: Summitry of the Americas, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 69-94, March.
  28. Christian Bjørnskov & Axel Dreher & Justina A.V. Fischer, 2005. "Cross-Country Determinants of Life Satisfaction: Exploring Different Determinants across Groups in Society," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2005 2005-19, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  29. Ovaska, Tomi & Takashima, Ryo, 2006. "Economic policy and the level of self-perceived well-being: An international comparison," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 308-325, April.
  30. Gassebner, Martin & Keck, Alexander & Teh, Robert, 2006. "The impact of disasters on international trade," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2006-04, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
  31. David Dorn & Justina Fischer & Gebhard Kirchgässner & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2008. "Direct democracy and life satisfaction revisited: new evidence for Switzerland," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 227-255, June.
  32. Martin Gassebner & Alexander Keck & Robert Teh, 2010. "Shaken, Not Stirred: The Impact of Disasters on International Trade," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(2), pages 351-368, 05.
  33. Tsebelis, George, 1995. "Decision Making in Political Systems: Veto Players in Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, Multicameralism and Multipartyism," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 25(03), pages 289-325, July.
  34. Fischer, Justina AV, 2008. "Competition and well-being: does market competition make people unhappy?," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 697, Stockholm School of Economics.
  35. Zak, Paul J & Knack, Stephen, 2001. "Trust and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 295-321, April.
  36. W. J. Henisz, 2000. "The Institutional Environment for Economic Growth," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 1-31, 03.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:26:y:2010:i:4:p:419-430. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.