IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Exploring Determinants of Subjective Wellbeing in OECD Countries: Evidence from the World Value Survey


  • Sarah Fleche


  • Conal Smith


  • Piritta Sorsa



The paper explores issues with assessing wellbeing in OECD countries based on self-reported life satisfaction surveys in a pooled regression over time and countries, at the country level and the OECD average. The results, which are in line with previous studies of subjective wellbeing, show that, apart from income, the state of health, not being unemployed, and social relationships are particularly important for wellbeing with only some differences across countries. The results also show that cultural differences are not major drivers of differences in life satisfaction. Correlations between the rankings of measures of life satisfaction and other indicators of wellbeing such as the Human Development Index and Better Life Index are also relatively high. Measures of subjective wellbeing can play an important part in informing policy makers of progress with wellbeing in general, or what seems to matter for wellbeing— health, being employed and social contacts-- beyond income. Examen des déterminants subjectifs du bien-être dans les pays de l'OCDE : une caractérisation basée sur le World Values Survey Ce document examine les questions liées à l’évaluation du bien-être dans les pays de l'OCDE à partir d’enquêtes de satisfaction de la vie auto-déclarée dans une régression sur un panel de pays avec une dimension temporelle, au niveau des pays et de la moyenne de l'OCDE. Les résultats, similaires à ceux d’études antérieures sur le bien-être subjectif, montrent que, en dehors de revenu, l'état de santé, ne pas être au chômage, et les relations sociales sont particulièrement importantes pour le bien-être, avec des différences limitées entre les pays. Les résultats montrent également que les différences culturelles ne sont pas les principaux facteurs de différences dans la satisfaction de la vie. Les corrélations entre les classements des mesures de satisfaction de la vie et d'autres indicateurs de bien-être tels que l'Indice de développement humain et l'Indice Vivre mieux sont également relativement élevées. Les mesures du bienêtre subjectif peuvent jouer un rôle important en informant les décideurs sur les progrès en termes de bienêtre en général, ou sur ce qui semble contribuer au bien-être – la santé, être employé et les contacts sociaux – au-delà des revenus.

Suggested Citation

  • Sarah Fleche & Conal Smith & Piritta Sorsa, 2012. "Exploring Determinants of Subjective Wellbeing in OECD Countries: Evidence from the World Value Survey," OECD Statistics Working Papers 2012/1, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:stdaaa:2012/1-en

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:


    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Cum stai cu...starea de bine?
      by Alina Botezat in Alina Botezat Blog on 2012-05-23 14:49:00


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Sarracino, Francesco & Gosset, Andrea, 2015. "The non-economic outcomes of social entrepreneurship in Luxembourg," MPRA Paper 69347, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Romina Boarini & Margherita Comola & Femke Keulenaer & Robert Manchin & Conal Smith, 2013. "Can Governments Boost People’s Sense of Well-Being? The Impact of Selected Labour Market and Health Policies on Life Satisfaction," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(1), pages 105-120, October.
    3. Pascal Godefroy & Stéfan Lollivier, 2014. "Satisfaction et qualité de vie," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 469(1), pages 199-232.
    4. repec:spr:jhappi:v:19:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9812-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Arnaud Joskin, 2018. "Working Paper 02-18 - Mesurer le bien-être en Belgique - Construction d’un indicateur composite pour mesurer le bien-être actuel des Belges
      [Working Paper 02-18 - Het welzijn in België meten - Opbo
      ," Working Papers 1802, Federal Planning Bureau, Belgium.
    6. Monica Răileanu-Szeles, 2015. "Explaining the Dynamics and Drivers of Financial Well-Being in the European Union," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 120(3), pages 701-722, February.
    7. Nicola Pontarollo & Mercy Orellana Bravo & Joselin Segovia Sarmiento, 2017. "The determinants of subjective wellbeing in a developing country: The Ecuadorian case," JRC Working Papers JRC109319, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    8. M. Hussain, 2014. "The Robustness of High Danish National Happiness: A Temporal Cross-Country Analysis of Population Subgroups," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 118(2), pages 759-774, September.
    9. Christian Kroll, 2015. "Global Development and Happiness: How Can Data on Subjective Well-Being Inform Development Theory and Practice?," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(3), pages 281-309, September.
    10. Jennifer Brown & Ronald MacDonald & Richard Mitchell, 2015. "Are People Who Participate in Cultural Activities More Satisfied with Life?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 135-146, May.
    11. Arnaud Joskin, 2017. "Working Paper 04-17 - Qu’est-ce qui compte pour les Belges ? Analyse des déterminants du bien-être individuel en Belgique
      [Working Paper 04-17 - Wat telt voor de Belgen? Analyse van de determinante
      ," Working Papers 1704, Federal Planning Bureau, Belgium.

    More about this item


    bien-être; comparative studies; etudes comparatives; health; santé; welfare; well-being;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • P52 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Studies of Particular Economies

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oec:stdaaa:2012/1-en. 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: (). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.