Happiness as an expression of freedom and self-determination: a comparative, multilevel analysis

Max Haller, Markus Hadler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


In this paper, subjecitve well-being, as measured by survey questions on life satisfaction and happiness, is investigated from a sociological-comparative point of view. The central thesis is that happiness will be greater the more freedom a person has in her/his life decisions. It is hypothesized,therefore, that happiness will be higher in all those social contexts (micro and macro) which provide a person with greater freedom. Hence, happiness should be higher among the employed, among the persons in higher positions and with higher incomes, and happiness should also be higher in free market and democratic, and in less stratified societies. A comparative emperical analysis (multilevel regression) is carried out, using survey data on 41 nations from the World Value Survey 1995-97. The finding that happiness is related significantly to the degree of individual freedom is fully confirmed. It also has been proven that people who live in circumstances providng providing more freedom of personal choice are happier; this happens only through their perception and trough their expected change (improvement or stagnation) in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChallenges for quality of life in the contemporary world
Subtitle of host publicationadvances in quality-of-life studies, theory and research
EditorsWolfgang Glatzer, Susanne von Below, Matthias Stoffregen
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherKluwer Academic
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)1402028903
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Society for Quality of Life Studies Conference (5th : 2003) - Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Duration: 20 Jul 200324 Jul 2003

Publication series

NameSocial indicators research series
PublisherKluwer Academic


ConferenceInternational Society for Quality of Life Studies Conference (5th : 2003)
CityFrankfurt am Main, Germany


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