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Corruption Takes Away Happiness: Evidence from a Cross-National Study

Author

Listed:
  • Qiang Li

    () (Guangzhou University)

  • Lian An

    () (Hubei University
    University of North Florida)

Abstract

Both corruption and subjective well-being are of concern to academics, governments, and policy makers. This paper studies the impact of corruption on subjective well-being, using cross-national data for 126 countries. By employing preindustrial local traditional democracy level as a novel instrument variable for current corruption, the paper addresses the endogeneity issue. We find the national average of subjective well-being would decrease by 0.23 points if a government became more corrupt by 10 points, and unemployment rate had to decrease equivalently by 9.2% to keep the national average subjective well-being unchanged. Further investigation shows that corruption had a significant effect in democratic or high-income countries only. The results are robust to alternative measures of corruption and happiness, estimation strategies, and excluding outliers.

Suggested Citation

  • Qiang Li & Lian An, 2020. "Corruption Takes Away Happiness: Evidence from a Cross-National Study," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 485-504, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jhappi:v:21:y:2020:i:2:d:10.1007_s10902-019-00092-z
    DOI: 10.1007/s10902-019-00092-z
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