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Are Happier Nations More Responsible? Examining the Link Between Happiness and Sustainability

Yomna M. Sameer (), Suzanna Elmassah (), Charilaos Mertzanis () and Lujain El-Maghraby ()
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Yomna M. Sameer: Abu Dhabi University
Suzanna Elmassah: Cairo University
Charilaos Mertzanis: Abu Dhabi University
Lujain El-Maghraby: Coventry University Branch Campus at TKH Cairo

Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, 2021, vol. 158, issue 1, No 12, 267-295

Abstract: Abstract The paper uses aggregate data from 152 countries to analyze the association between happiness and sustainability. Our paper provides new evidence on happiness and sustainability. Taking a psychological approach, happiness is linked to hedonism and reflects individual perceptions of quality of life and life satisfaction. Sustainability reflects the extent of meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals which includes responsible consumption. In order to elucidate the link, the analysis examines separately the association between happiness, consumption, sustainability and responsible behavior. The results document a positive and significant association between them, which remains broadly robust subject to various controls, sensitivity and endogeneity tests. The results contribute to the elucidation of the role of happiness and hedonism for sustainability and stress the complementarity between happy life and good life. While associated with higher consumption, happiness could also lead to more responsible behavior and higher adherence of sustainability considerations. Thus, happy nations may consume more but they also appear to be more responsible towards the society and the environment. Our results challenge the traditional notion that happiness and sustainability go separate ways. These findings signal a number of potential social and political implications including pointing on the importance of happiness to responsible behavior.

Keywords: Happiness; Hedonism; Sustainability; Consumption; Responsible behavior (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: G41 I31 Q01 Q32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s11205-021-02698-4

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