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How much happiness is there in the world? A cross-country study


  • Vani Borooah


This paper complements the burgeoning literature on country-specific studies of happiness by taking a global look at happiness and its determinants. In so doing, it makes two contributions. First, it presents indicators of happiness that are 'equity adjusted' and compares their values to those of unadjusted indicators. This comparison shows that countries with the lowest mean happiness scores have their unhappiness compounded when these means are adjusted to take account of the glaring inequality in their inter-personal distribution of happiness. Second, using data on nearly 113 000 respondents, drawn from 80 countries, it shows that people everywhere want broadly the same things in order to be happy: faith in a deity; a decent standard of living; a job; a good family and social life; a good neighbourhood in which to live; and, above all, good health.

Suggested Citation

  • Vani Borooah, 2006. "How much happiness is there in the world? A cross-country study," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(8), pages 483-488.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:apeclt:v:13:y:2006:i:8:p:483-488 DOI: 10.1080/13504850500400652

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
    2. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-1831, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Junji Kageyama, 2009. "Happiness and sex difference in life expectancy," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2009-009, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    2. Junji Kageyama, 2012. "Happiness and Sex Difference in Life Expectancy," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(5), pages 947-967, October.
    3. Sibel Selim, 2008. "Life Satisfaction and Happiness in Turkey," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 88(3), pages 531-562, September.
    4. NĂ©stor Gandelman & Rafael Porzecanski, 2013. "Happiness Inequality: How Much is Reasonable?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 110(1), pages 257-269, January.
    5. Borooah, Vani & Dineen, Donal & Lynch, Nicola, 2010. "Health, Employment and the Quality of Life in Ireland," MPRA Paper 75682, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Muhammad Atif NAWAZ & Noreen AFZAL & Kiran SHEHZADI, 2013. "Factors That Affect the Feeling of Happiness in Israel," Asian Journal of Empirical Research, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 3(10), pages 1300-1309, October.
    7. Damiano Fiorillo, 2011. "Volunteer work and domain satisfactions: evidence from Italy," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 39(1/2), pages 97-124, December.
    8. Vani K. Borooah, 2009. "Comparing levels of job satisfaction in the countries of Western and Eastern Europe," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 30(4), pages 304-325, July.
    9. Rachel Margolis & Mikko Myrskylä, 2010. "A global perspective on happiness and fertility," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2010-025, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    10. Sibylle Puntscher & Christoph Hauser & Janette Walde & Gottfried Tappeiner, 2015. "The Impact of Social Capital on Subjective Well-Being: A Regional Perspective," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 1231-1246, October.

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