Cross-national research on happiness is soaring, but doubts about the comparability of happiness remain. One source of doubt is the possibility of cultural measurement bias. Another source of doubt is the theory that happiness depends on standards of the good life that differ widely across cultures. These qualms are checked using the available data on differences in average happiness across nations. It appears that cultural measurement bias is modest at best. The data show meaningful links with living conditions in nations. It is concluded that happiness is a good indicator of the livability of society.

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Journal of Happiness Studies
Department of Sociology

Veenhoven, R. (2009). Comparability of happiness across nations. Journal of Happiness Studies, 211–234. Retrieved from