The Happy Culture: A Theoretical, Meta-Analytic, and Empirical Review of the Relationship Between Culture and Wealth and Subjective Well-Being

post by alexherwix · 2019-07-16T09:25:20.228Z · EA · GW · 3 comments

This is a link post for https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1088868317721372

I have come across another highly interesting research article that seems relevant to the EA community. This one is a comprehensive meta study of the influence of culture on subjective well-being (SWB) on an individual as well as national level. What I find interesting about this article is that it is not only empirically grounded but also suggests possible focus areas for improving SWB through culture-aware interventions. Thus, it seems directly relevant to any EAs interested in increasing SWB on a global scale.

Steel, P., Taras, V., Uggerslev, K., & Bosco, F. (2018). The Happy Culture: A Theoretical, Meta-Analytic, and Empirical Review of the Relationship Between Culture and Wealth and Subjective Well-Being. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 22(2), 128–169. https://doi.org/10.1177/1088868317721372

Abstract. Do cultural values enhance financial and subjective well-being (SWB)? Taking a multidisciplinary approach, we meta-analytically reviewed the field, found it thinly covered, and focused on individualism. In counter, we collected a broad array of individual-level data, specifically an Internet sample of 8,438 adult respondents. Individual SWB was most strongly associated with cultural values that foster relationships and social capital, which typically accounted for more unique variance in life satisfaction than an individual’s salary. At a national level, we used mean-based meta-analysis to construct a comprehensive cultural and SWB database. Results show some reversals from the individual level, particularly masculinity’s facet of achievement orientation. In all, the happy nation has low power distance and low uncertainty avoidance, but is high in femininity and individualism, and these effects are interrelated but still partially independent from political and economic institutions. In short, culture matters for individual and national well-being.

3 comments

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comment by cole_haus · 2019-07-16T22:25:06.224Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Nothing especially insightful to add. Just wanted to link to The French Unhappiness Puzzle: The Cultural Dimension of Happiness which is on a related topic and reasonably good.

comment by jasonk · 2019-07-16T17:08:31.231Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the link.

Did they have any suggestions for possible interventions based on these findings? Do you have any?

comment by alexherwix · 2019-07-17T11:28:01.442Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

They do not really address any specific interventions but provide some insights into factors influencing SWB and income. They also highlight that coming up with interventions might be a challenge given the complexity of the topic. Thus, this paper is more of a conversation starter and may provide some good inspiration for further inquiries.

Personally, I am not an expert in the field and wouldn't be able to make any informed suggestions beyond basic brainstorming. Hoped that other people deeper into the topic than me would be able to make good use of the paper.