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Social equality and state welfare effort: More income-equality, no more equality in quality of life

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  • Veenhoven, Ruut

Abstract

Cross-national studies on happiness have focused on differences in level of happiness. The focus of this paper is on spread in happiness in the nation, also called ‘inequality in happiness’. Inequality in happiness in nations can be measured by the size of the standard deviation of responses to survey questions about the ‘overall appreciation of one’s life-as-a-whole’. This paper considers spread in happiness in 28 countries around 1980. Contrary to notions of a ‘divided’ society none of these countries shows a bi-modal distribution of happiness. All distribution are uni-modal, but the distributions are not equally flat. There are considerable differences in size of the standard deviations. These differences are not a statistical artifact of variation in level of happiness and appear quite constant through time. Inequality in happiness appears to be greater in the socio-economically most unequal countries and smaller in politically democratic and economically developed nations. Contrary to expectation, inequality in happiness appears to be more closely linked to social equality among rich nations than among not-so-rich ones

Suggested Citation

  • Veenhoven, Ruut, 1992. "Social equality and state welfare effort: More income-equality, no more equality in quality of life," MPRA Paper 11277, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:11277
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/11277/1/MPRA_paper_11277.pdf
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    happiness; welfare state; cross-national;

    JEL classification:

    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative

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