Shhh…Government makes people happier

government makes people happierTruthout certainly made us happy this month when it shared the news about research that explores the role of government in happiness and public satisfaction. In the article “Stop Complaining About ‘Big Government’ and Embrace It,” Truthout’s writers walk us through the positive correlation between government and happiness:

That’s right. Political science researchers with Baylor University’s College of Arts and Sciences found that, “the effect of state intervention into the economy equals or exceeds marriage or employment status—two traditional predictors of happiness—when it comes to satisfaction.”

In their study published in the journal Social Forces, the researchers looked at data from 21 OECD nations—the world’s most developed countries—in the World Values Survey from 1981 to 2007.

They compared the countries based on a variety of factors, including social welfare expenditures as a percentage of GDP, the ease of access to welfare and social service benefits, and overall government spending as a percentage of GDP.

The researchers then spoke with nearly 50,000 respondents across the 21 countries about their general well-being, and asked them, “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?”

The respondents were then asked to score their well-being and satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10.

The U.S. came in eleventh in the rankings, with Americans scoring their well-being and satisfaction at an average of 7.61.

That’s not surprising, considering that the U.S. is just one of two OECD countries (South Korea being the other one) that doesn’t spend the highest percentage of its total budget on social services.

The most satisfied countries were Denmark, Switzerland and Iceland.

Denmark, Switzerland and Iceland are towards the top of the list when it comes to total government spending on social services as a percentage of GDP.

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