Subjective Life Satisfaction in the European Union: Determinants and Policy Implications
Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)
May 26, 2011
In recent years, the idea that public policy should maximize satisfaction, happiness or some other non-material measure of well-being has received a great deal of attention. In this paper, I conduct an empirical study of the determinants of subjective life satisfaction (SLS) in the European Union using data from the most recent, 2008/2009, wave of the European Values Study. In particular, I examine the association between SLS and two kinds of individual-level characteristics: demographic (age, gender, foreign-born and marital status) and socio-economic (education, monthly household income, employment and student status). I find that, of the economic variables, employed status and higher household income are associated with greater SLS. These findings suggest that a traditional economic policy focused on reducing unemployment and on increasing real incomes can go a long way in improving citizens’ life satisfaction.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 13
Keywords: subjective life satisfaction, subjective well-being, behavioral economics, welfare economics, European Union, economic policy
JEL Classification: I30, E61, J38working papers series
Date posted: May 29, 2011
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