HAPpiness, Political Institutions, Natural Environment and Space

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A comparative analysis of the influence of environmental conditions, environmental regimes and political context on subjective well-being

How do political institutions and environmental factors affect subjective well-being? Our project aims to understand the impact of these two location-specific factors on individual happiness.
We focus on the “geography of happiness” in Europe and on two important sources of spatial heterogeneity and their interactions:
(i) Environmental heterogeneity (including objective environmental conditions and environmental policies) and
(ii) Institutional and political heterogeneity (including characteristics of the institutional and political context).
The units of analysis are individuals at a micro level, regions at a meso level, and countries at a macro level. While, by definition, individuals experience their environment and political context at an individual or meso level; some of the factors that shape how location-specific factors affect individuals’ perceptions and subjective well-being may occur at a national or macro level (unemployment and inflation rates for example).
We attempt to expand previous literature in three directions:
1. By using regional data. Previous studies focus on cross-country variation of e.g. climate or air pollution, but individual experiences environmental amenities at a regional or local level
2.By investigating causal channels through interaction with individual characteristics (e.g. Does air pollution affect more the SWB of unhealthy individuals? Or of those with stronger environmental values? Do differences in institutional settings have differential impacts for citizens/non citizens?
3. By considering interactions at the macro/meso level (e.g. is environmental quality related to the importance of the green vote or viceversa?)

This collaborative project involves partners from four European universities: University College Dublin, Ireland, University of Gothenburg, Sweden University of Navarra, Spain, University of Stirling, UK; and the University of Georgia, USA.



"Different men seek after happiness in different ways and by different means, and so make for themselves different modes of life and forms of government." -ARISTOTLE

"Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy." -BERTRAND RUSSELL

"As soon as I escaped from the oppressive atmosphere of the city, and from the stink of the smoky chimneys, which, being stirred, pour forth, along with a cloud of ashes, all the poisonous fumes they’ve accumulated in their interiors, I perceived at once change in my feelings." -SENECA