Economy, Culture and Happiness: Is There Interconnection?

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2017-61-7-35-44
O. Antipina (,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, 3rd training building, 1-46, Leninskie Gory, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation

Abstract. Economic development and culture are important factors affecting happiness. The paper discusses the impact of economic and cultural factors on the cross-country differences in happiness levels. Various approaches to international ratings of happiness appeared recently. The author focuses on the Better Life Index, the Happy Planet Index, and the Ranking of Happiness from the World Happiness Report while analyzing the effect of ecological consequences of economic development, relative income, economic growth, and level of inequality in society on the estimates of happiness. The author agrees with those economists who believe that cultural values play the most important and stable role in cross-country differences in life satisfaction. It is shown how various cultural factors differ in their effects on happiness. It is stressed that people in an individualist culture have higher levels of subjective well-being than those in a collectivist culture. Special attention is paid to East-Asian happiness gap and its reasons, including racing for money, excessive competitiveness, conformity, concentration on unpleasant emotions, and emphasis on outward appearance. Basing on the economics of happiness statements, the author suggests the economic policy measures for increasing subjective well-being. Despite the existing problems in economic growth in less developed countries strengthening democracy and raising gender equality are important for happiness in all over the world. Also, the author shares the ideas of libertarian paternalism about the welfare-improving influence on the human preferences through more public spending in such areas as infrastructure, environment, education, research, and public health. Public spending in these areas may be generally effective because of rising happiness level despite of its some unavoidable inefficiency. 

Keywords: level of happiness, life satisfaction, subjective well-being, economics of happiness, Easterlin paradox, “keeping up with the Joneses”, cultural values, individualist culture, collectivist culture, East-Asian happiness gap



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For citation:
Antipina O. Economy, Culture and Happiness: Is There Interconnection?. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2017, vol. 61, no. 7, pp. 35-44.

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