The Happy Culture: A Theoretical, Meta-Analytic, and Empirical Review of the Relationship Between Culture and Wealth and Subjective Well-Being

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I have come across an­other highly in­ter­est­ing re­search ar­ti­cle that seems rele­vant to the EA com­mu­nity. This one is a com­pre­hen­sive meta study of the in­fluence of cul­ture on sub­jec­tive well-be­ing (SWB) on an in­di­vi­d­ual as well as na­tional level. What I find in­ter­est­ing about this ar­ti­cle is that it is not only em­piri­cally grounded but also sug­gests pos­si­ble fo­cus ar­eas for im­prov­ing SWB through cul­ture-aware in­ter­ven­tions. Thus, it seems di­rectly rele­vant to any EAs in­ter­ested in in­creas­ing SWB on a global scale.

Steel, P., Taras, V., Ug­ger­slev, K., & Bosco, F. (2018). The Happy Cul­ture: A The­o­ret­i­cal, Meta-An­a­lytic, and Em­piri­cal Re­view of the Re­la­tion­ship Between Cul­ture and Wealth and Sub­jec­tive Well-Be­ing. Per­son­al­ity and So­cial Psy­chol­ogy Re­view, 22(2), 128–169. https://​​doi.org/​​10.1177/​​1088868317721372

Ab­stract. Do cul­tural val­ues en­hance fi­nan­cial and sub­jec­tive well-be­ing (SWB)? Tak­ing a mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary ap­proach, we meta-an­a­lyt­i­cally re­viewed the field, found it thinly cov­ered, and fo­cused on in­di­vi­d­u­al­ism. In counter, we col­lected a broad ar­ray of in­di­vi­d­ual-level data, speci­fi­cally an In­ter­net sam­ple of 8,438 adult re­spon­dents. In­di­vi­d­ual SWB was most strongly as­so­ci­ated with cul­tural val­ues that foster re­la­tion­ships and so­cial cap­i­tal, which typ­i­cally ac­counted for more unique var­i­ance in life satis­fac­tion than an in­di­vi­d­ual’s salary. At a na­tional level, we used mean-based meta-anal­y­sis to con­struct a com­pre­hen­sive cul­tural and SWB database. Re­sults show some re­ver­sals from the in­di­vi­d­ual level, par­tic­u­larly mas­culinity’s facet of achieve­ment ori­en­ta­tion. In all, the happy na­tion has low power dis­tance and low un­cer­tainty avoidance, but is high in fem­i­ninity and in­di­vi­d­u­al­ism, and these effects are in­ter­re­lated but still par­tially in­de­pen­dent from poli­ti­cal and eco­nomic in­sti­tu­tions. In short, cul­ture mat­ters for in­di­vi­d­ual and na­tional well-be­ing.