The case of Rotterdam 1997-2009

Piet Ouweneel & Ruut Veenhoven Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization EHERO
Social Indicators Research 2015, 126 (2) 739-756, DOI 10.1007\s11205-015-0920-y
, Open Access

Protest parties are on the rise in several European countries. This development is commonly attributed to a growing dissatisfaction with life and associated with declining quality of life in modern society of the lowest social strata. This explanation is tested in a cross-sectional analysis of voting and life-satisfactrion in 63 districts of the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, where the share of protest voters increased from 10% in 1994 to 31% in 2009. Contrary to this explanation protest voting appeared not to be the most frequent in the least happy districts of Rotterdam, but in the medium happy segment. Also divergent from this explanation was that average happiness in city districts is largely independent of local living conditions, but is rather a matter of personal vulnerability in terms of education, income and health. These results fit alternative explanations in terms of middle class status anxiety.

Keywords: political protest, happiness, livability of local environment

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