Foundations of subjective well-being in turbulent times: A comparison of four European countries

Antti Kouvo (Department of Social Research, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Pekka Räsänen (Department of Social Research, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Publication date: 9 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between the individual and aggregate level foundations of subjective well-being (SWB). In particular, the authors focus on the institutional differences between the welfare states as possible explanatory sources of SWB.

Design/methodology/approach

The data come from the Finnish, British, German and Greek sections of the European Social Survey Round 5, 2010 (n=10,046). The methods consist of multilevel and linear regression models.

Findings

The results indicate that the effects of many background variables are somewhat constant in the selected countries, even though the countries are different from each other in terms of their institutional characteristics. SWB can be explained relatively well by individuals’ social networks, health and socio-demographic factors. However, the detected cross-country differences also point to the fact that the institutional differences among the countries have significance in this instance.

Research limitations/implications

The research approach was built on cross-sectional data on Finland, Germany, the UK, and Greece only. While these countries represent different types of European societies it is not possible to make broader conclusions on the variation caused by societal or cultural factors in the global sense.

Social implications

The findings are significant regarding the current economic situation in many European countries.

Originality/value

Previous studies have addressed the direct effects of the background factors in contemporary Europe. Beyond these determinants also lies the possible impact of institutional and cultural factors.

Keywords

Citation

Kouvo, A. and Räsänen, P. (2015), "Foundations of subjective well-being in turbulent times: A comparison of four European countries ", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 35 No. 1/2, pp. 2-17. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-01-2014-0005

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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