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Some empirics of the bivariate relationship between average subjective well-being and the sustainable wealth of nations

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The World Bank's Millennium Capital Assessment (MCA) has provided per capita estimates of total wealth and its major subcategories for a large number of countries. In this article, these macro-level estimates are used to explore bivariate cross-country ‘wealth–happiness’ relationships, focussing on issues of appropriate functional form, parameter stability and outliers. For comparative purposes, ‘income–happiness’ relationships are also explored. Total wealth turns out to be strongly related to Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, due to the importance of produced and intangible capital, but not to natural capital. In contrast, when the most natural capital intensive countries are excluded as outliers, a strong relationship emerges between Subjective Well-Being (SWB) and natural capital, especially amongst high income countries. In these countries, natural capital seems to be an important wealth correlate of SWB, despite accounting for only a very small proportion of total wealth.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Economics and Finance,College of Business, Turitea Campus, Massey University, Private Bag 11222Palmerston North, New Zealand

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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