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National Happiness and Genetic Distance: A Cautious Exploration

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  • Eugenio Proto
  • Andrew J. Oswald

Abstract

This paper studies a famous unsolved puzzle in quantitative social science. Why do some nations report such high levels of mental well-being? Denmark, for instance, regularly tops the league table of rich countries’ happiness; Britain and the US enter further down; some nations do unexpectedly poorly. The explanation for the long-observed ranking -- one that holds after adjustment for GDP and other socioeconomic variables -- is currently unknown. Using data on 131 countries, the paper cautiously explores a new approach. It documents three forms of evidence consistent with the hypothesis that some nations may have a genetic advantage in well-being.
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Suggested Citation

  • Eugenio Proto & Andrew J. Oswald, 2017. "National Happiness and Genetic Distance: A Cautious Exploration," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(604), pages 2127-2152, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:econjl:v:127:y:2017:i:604:p:2127-2152
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ecoj.2017.127.issue-604
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    Cited by:

    1. Adalgiso Amendola & Roberto Dell'Anno & Lavinia Parisi, 2022. "Why some people are not as happy as they could be: the role of unobservable subjective factors," International Journal of Happiness and Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 7(1), pages 40-63.
    2. Nik Ahmad Sufian Burhan & Mohamad Fazli Sabri & Heiner Rindermann, 2023. "Cognitive ability and economic growth: how much happiness is optimal?," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 70(1), pages 63-100, March.
    3. 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.
    4. Nikolova, Milena, 2016. "Minding the happiness gap: Political institutions and perceived quality of life in transition," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 45(S), pages 129-148.
    5. Ratna K. Shrestha & Raunak Shrestha & Sara Shneiderman & Jeevan Baniya, 2023. "Beyond Reconstruction: What Leads to Satisfaction in Post-Disaster Recovery?," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 1367-1395, April.
    6. Jacob A. Jordaan & Bogdan Dima, 2020. "Post Materialism and Comparative Economic Development: Do Institutions Act as Transmission Channel?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 148(2), pages 441-472, April.
    7. MAGAZZINO, Cosimo & LEOGRANDE, Angelo, 2021. "Subjective Well-Being In Italian Regions: A Panel Data Approach," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 21(1), pages 1-18.
    8. Carol Graham & Julia Ruiz Pozuelo, 2017. "Happiness, stress, and age: how the U curve varies across people and places," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(1), pages 225-264, January.
    9. Trung V Vu, 2023. "Long-term relatedness and income distribution: understanding the deep roots of inequality," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 704-728.
    10. Hadsell, Lester & Jones, Adam T, 2020. "The company you keep: Satisfaction with life, economic freedom, and preference-policy mismatch," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 642-657.
    11. Maria João Guedes & Nicos Nicolaou & Pankaj C. Patel, 2019. "Genetic distance and the difference in new firm entry between countries," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 29(3), pages 973-1016, July.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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