Culture, competition, and hapiness

Available from: 
June 2014
Paper author(s): 
Juan José Barrios (Universidad ORT Uruguay)
Demographic Economics - Migration
Microeconomics - Competition - Productivity
Fiscal Policy - Public and Welfare Economics

Drawing on individual data from the World Values Surveys, this paper estimates the importance of cultural differences in determining the relation between individual feelings about competition and self-reported happiness. Cultural differences are measured by the ethnic origin: Asians, Blacks and Whites. In general, people who think competition is good are associated to the same (high) level of happiness as do people who think competition is harmful. Blacks, however, appear to shy away from competition probably because they are not the winners in the competitive process of capitalism. Results among blacks within different countries show similar patterns. These findings are different than and complement previous research which shows a positive or negative relation between competition and well-being. The paper improves over previous research in that it approximates competitive environment by using individual-level measures and considers the relevance of cultural differences. Instrumental variable analysis suggests that there may be a relation of causality stemming from competition to happiness. The paper conjectures about the reasons why individuals who find competition as harmful report higher levels of happiness.


Research section: 
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