Subjective Well-Being at the Macro Level—Empirics and Future Scenarios

Subjective Well-Being at the Macro Level—Empirics and Future Scenarios

Emmerling J., Navarro P., Sisco M.R., (2021), Subjective Well-Being at the Macro Level—Empirics and Future Scenarios, Social Indicators Research, 13 April 2021, DOI: 10.1007/s11205-021-02670-2, webpage

Abstract

We estimate the impact of a large number of determinants of subjective well-being (SWB) across 143 countries, and project SWB across macro-regions for different socio-economic scenarios. We focus on the 23% of the variance in SWB that is explained by cross-country differences, as the remaining 77% is due to individual-specific factors. We estimate a mixed-effects model to quantify the contributions of various socio-demographic, environmental, energy-related, economic, and institutional factors in explaining SWB. We find that the contribution of institutions to SWB is as large as that of economic factors. We then generate projections on the evolution of SWB until 2100 based on the five Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), a framework that facilitates the integrated analysis of future climate impacts, vulnerabilities, adaptation, and mitigation. Holding constant some institutional and economic factors for which SSP projections are not available, the results show significant differences in SWB across SSPs, of up to two points on the standard 0–10 scale of life satisfaction. The highest levels of projected material SWB are likely to occur in the Sustainable Development scenario (SSP1) and the conventional development scenario (SSP5) which lead to very similar SWB levels in material factors. Differences across regions are large. The OECD region and Latin America show the highest levels of SWB historically. The current projections reveal that Latin America could overtake the OECD countries in terms of subjective well-being. Overall, our results can provide valuable insights to policy evaluation in the context of climate change. Future work could expand these scenarios to include also further social and societal variables.

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