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Is happiness a predictor of election results?

George Ward

LSE Research Online Documents on Economics from London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library

Abstract: Is it in politicians’ interest to focus policy on subjective well-being (SWB)? Many governments and international organisations have recently begun to measure progress at least partly in terms of the population’s SWB or “happiness”. This paper investigates the extent to which citizens themselves judge national success in such terms. Using cross-country panel data, the analysis shows that the electoral fate of governing parties is associated not only with the state of the macroeconomy—as a substantial literature on ‘economic voting’ suggests—but also with the electorate’s wider well-being. A country’s aggregate level of SWB is able to account for more of the variance in government vote share than standard macroeconomic variables. This is consistent with a simple political agency model, and has implications for the incentives faced by politicians to act in the interests of voters.

Keywords: Subjective well-being; political agency; elections (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 33 pages
Date: 2015-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-hap and nep-pol
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (28) Track citations by RSS feed

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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:ehl:lserod:61698

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