There are sizeable differences in happiness between countries. These differences are consistent across indicators and quite stable through time. There is a little support for the view that these differences are due to "cultural bias". In test performed here do not suggest that a great part of the difference results from cultural differences in "language", "desirability bias", "response tendencies" or "familiarity" with the concept of happiness. There is solid empirical support for the view that these differences result from the fact that some societies provide their citizens with better living conditions than others. The bulk of the variance in happiness can be explained by nation characteristics such as economic prosperity, social security, political freedom, and social equality

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Swets & Zeitlinger, Lisse
Department of Sociology

Veenhoven, R, & Ouweneel, P. (1991). Cross-national differences in happiness: cultural bias or societal quality?. Swets & Zeitlinger, Lisse. Retrieved from