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Analyzing Trends in Subjective Well-Being in 15 European Countries, 1973-2002

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Previous empirical research has been unable to find a sufficient correlation between subjective well-being and per capita income, being hampered by limited longitudinal information and an inability to account for the predictions of competing theories. We bring new evidence to this question by exploiting a long and complete time-series from the Eurobarometer Survey, 1973-2002 allowing an examination of trends in life satisfaction across 15 European countries employing a modified version of Kendall's Tau. Our results show that while current GDP growth does not affect trends in well-being, accelerations in GDP growth do. In addition, faster GDP growth and faster growth of government consumption than in neighbouring countries induces positive trends in life satisfaction. Our findings are consistent with the predictions of aspirations theory and the theory of reference group comparisons.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Pages (from-to)317-330
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Research areas

  • Life satisfaction, Trends, Comparison theory, Aspiration theory

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