Modernity and happiness in 141 contemporary nations

Ruut Veenhoven and Maarten Berg, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
International Journal of Happiness and Development, 2013, 1 (2) 172-195
, DOI: 10.1504/IJHD.2013.055645

Modern society comes in for a great deal of criticism, such as about increasing individualization, globalization and technologization, which is seen to reduce the quality of life. This claim was investigated in a comparative study of 141 present-day countries. Eight aspects of modernity were considered: industrialization, size of the service sector, economic freedom, real income per capita, globalization, level of education, political democracy and urbanization. Happiness in different countries was measured as the average response to survey questions on happiness, affect and life-satisfaction.
Analysis shows that people living in most modern countries are substantially happier than people in the less modern countries are. The patterns are generally linear. In a subset of Western nations, greater modernity still goes with greater happiness. Although the advantages of societal modernization may be finite, modernization has not yet undermined human happiness.

Key words: happiness, livability, quality of life, modernization

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