IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

What is the Structure of South African Happiness Equations? Evidence from Quality of Life Surveys

  • Timothy Hinks
  • Carola Gruen


The issue of what determines subjective well-being has been at the centre of a recent flurry of research in the economics field. A necessary part of this understanding is the role relative positions (economic, social, geographic) of economic agents, particularly individuals, play in life (commonly referred to in the literature as rivalry). In this paper we concentrate on whether the structure of happiness equations of South Africa are the same/similar to those of developed countries. The analysis uses three of the Durban Quality of Life Studies. Firstly these three data series are pooled and a variety of covariates are tested for their significance on happiness. These include age, marital status, employment status, household income and relative household income. Next we estimate yearly cross-sectional models to see if there are consistent findings of what determines happiness across the period considered. Our findings indicate there maybe some structural differences between results from the Durban studies and those of international findings. Age appears to play no role in happiness likelihood, nor does marital status. Being unemployed does significantly and negatively effect happiness as does the size of household income, relative household income and whether living in a formal dwelling place. When we distinguish between employment categories we find that being self-employed negatively affects happiness, contradicting findings for developed countries. Future research will concentrate on the most recent Durban studies, in which information on health and crime are available, both of which are expected to significantly effect happiness given the well documented nature of these problems in South Africa.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

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 Springer in its journal Social Indicators Research.

Volume (Year): 82 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 311-336

in new window

Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:82:y:2007:i:2:p:311-336
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Web:

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. Bernd Hayo & Wolfgang Seifert, 2002. "Subjective Economic Well-Being in Eastern Europe," Development and Comp Systems 0203001, EconWPA.
  2. Geeta Kingdon & John Knight, 2004. "Unemployment in South Africa: the nature of the beast," Labor and Demography 0409003, EconWPA.
  3. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Paul Allanson & Jonathan Atkins, 2005. "The Evolution of the Racial Wage Hierarchy in Post-Apartheid South Africa," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(6), pages 1023-1050.
  5. Oswald, Andrew, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  6. Ceema Zahra Namazie & Peter Sanfey, 1998. "Happiness in Transition: The Case of Kyrgyzstan," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 40, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  7. Rafael Di Tella & Robert J. MacCulloch & Andrew J. Oswald, 2003. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 809-827, November.
  8. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2003. "Unhappiness and Crime: Evidence from South Africa," Development and Comp Systems 0310003, EconWPA, revised 17 Mar 2004.
  9. Hayo, Bernd, 2007. "Happiness in transition: An empirical study on Eastern Europe," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 204-221, June.
  10. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-2001, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  11. Mich Brookes & Timothy Hinks, 2004. "The Racial Employment Gap In South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 72(3), pages 573-580, 09.
  12. Bruce E. Kaufman, 1999. "Expanding the behavioral foundations of labor economics," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(3), pages 361-392, April.
  13. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  14. Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2003. "Is The Structure Of Happiness Equations The Same In Poor And Rich Countries? The Case Of South Africa," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 675, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  15. Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
  16. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  17. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J. & Warr, Peter B., 1994. "Is job satisfaction u-shaped in age ?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9407, CEPREMAP.
  18. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  20. Geeta Kingdon & John Knight, 2003. "Well-being poverty versus income poverty and capabilities poverty?," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2003-16, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  21. 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.
  22. C. Graham & S. Pettinato, 2002. "Frustrated Achievers: Winners, Losers and Subjective Well-Being in New Market Economies," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 100-140.
  23. Konow, James & Earley, Joseph, 2008. "The Hedonistic Paradox: Is homo economicus happier," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 1-33, February.
  24. Dowrick, S. & Quigguin, J., 1992. "International Comparisons of Living Standards and Tastes: A Revealed Preference Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 277, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  25. Allanson, Paul & Atkins, Jonathan P & Hinks, Timothy, 2002. "No End to the Racial Wage Hierarchy in South Africa?," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 442-59, October.
  26. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
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:spr:soinre:v:82:y:2007:i:2:p:311-336. 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: (Sonal Shukla)

or (Christopher F Baum)

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.