What makes people happy? An empirical investigation of panel data

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Happiness is complicated. Extensive studies explored potential factors that might influence subjective well-being; however, one’s happiness should not be determined by a singular factor such as a certain life event. This study implements the system GMM and examines the multivariate effect of socio-economic factors that might influence happiness, based on panel data of happiness surveys in 165 countries over more than 10 years. The results suggest autonomy, social support, and generosity lead to greater subjective well-being. Social support and prosocial action such as donations are likely to improve social trust and one’s sense of social security, which can lead to greater subjective well-being. The effect of economic equality on subjective well-being might be heterogenous by individual context. National level inequality, such as GINI index, is not likely to influence happiness significantly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-94
Number of pages4
JournalApplied Economics Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • autonomy
  • Happiness
  • prosocial behaviour
  • social capital
  • subjective well-being


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