Life Satisfaction and the Human Development Index Across the World

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March 2021
Paper author(s): 
Rémi Yin
Anthony Lepinteur
Andrew Clark
Conchita d’Ambrosio

We use annual data on over 150 countries between 2005 and 2018 to look at the relationship between subjective well-being (both cognitive and affective) and the Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI appears to be more closely related to cognitive than affective well-being. We also consider the relationships between the three HDI components (the Income, Health and Education Indices) and well-being, and find that, on average, the Income Index has the strongest predictive power. Importantly, we find that the three HDI components only matter equally in Western and rich countries. Our analysis contributes to the discussion about cultural sensitivity in paradigms of societal development in two ways. We first show that differences in preferences towards development aims exist. Second, we propose a weighting procedure for a culturally-sensitive version of the HDI.


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