English title: Subjective well-being in Germany: Evolutions, determinants and policy implications

Author(s): Heinz-Herbert Noll - Stefan Weick -

Language: English

Type: Book chapter

Year: 2010


In recent years, research on happiness or more generally subjective well-being has attracted much interest, not only in academe, but also in the media and national and supra-national policy making. The booming research on subjective well-being has resulted in numerous findings on patterns, correlates, causes and behavioural consequences of subjective well-being, many of them finding their way into public debates on individual as well as policy implications. Although Germany looks back to a long tradition of measuring, monitoring and reporting subjective well-being, primarily as part of social indicators and quality of life research 1 , issues of happiness and subjective well-being are currently not at the centre of the political debate in this country. Obviously policy makers in Germany seem to be more reluctant to embark on this issue than in some other countries. Notably in the United Kingdom research on subjective well-being has become prominent at the agendas of political think tanks (New Economics Foundation 2004) as well as governmental agencies (Donovan, Halpern and Sergeant 2003; Jackson 2009) and has played a major role in the public debate in the UK in recent years. On the other hand, the policy implications of "happiness research" have been controversial from the beginning and continue to be subject of academic as well as public dispute. This chapter aims to analyse subjective well-being in Germany with a view to identifying typical patterns and characteristics as well as particularities of the situation in this country compared to others. The major part of the chapter focuses on a cross-sectional analysis of correlates and determinants of various dimensions of subjective well-being, including happiness. For selected dimensions of subjective well-being the chapter also addresses changes across time and compares Germany from an international perspective with other European countries. The first part of our analysis will characterise the societal context in terms of welfare state type and objective living conditions, against which subjective well-being will be considered. In a concluding part some possible policy implications of the research results on subjective well-being in Germany will be discussed.

From page no: 70

To page no: 90

Anthology: Happiness and Social Policy in Europe

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