Subjective well-being is a main goal in modern society, thus it is worth knowing
1) how subjective well-being differs across nations,
2) how it develops over time,
3) what the determinants of subjective well-being in nations are and
4) what the consequences of more or less well-being are.

In this chapter, I focus on one particular aspect of subjective well-being, that is, life-satisfaction. I take stock of the research on this matter, drawing on the World Database of Happiness. This reveals the following patterns:
a) life-satisfaction differs much across nations,
b) average life-satisfaction has risen over the past decade in most nations, while inequality in life-satisfaction in nations decreased,
c) several societal determinants of life-satisfaction have been identified, many of which are part of modernity, and,
d) high life-satisfaction in a nation has several positive effects and pursuit of greater happiness fits as such with wider policy aims.

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Erasmus School of Economics

Veenhoven, R. (2018). Subjective well-being in nations. In Handbook of Well-being. Retrieved from