FAQ's about using this database


Where do I find information about…

MEASUREMENT OF HAPPINESS

Where do I find an overview of measures of happiness?
Go to the Item Bank and click ‘Examples’.
For a more detailed view, browse the classification on the search page

How do I see which of these items are the most commonly used?
Lists of measures are displayed on the right field of the search screen of the Item Bank. On this list you can see how many studies have used this particular measures. If you click on the item code, a window opens with links to these studies.

Which measures of happiness have been used in earlier studies in a particular country, e.g. Albania?
Go to Happiness in Nations and click ‘Search findings... by nation’. A list of nations will appear on which you find Albania. Click that link and you get an overview of all the measures of happiness ever used in general population surveys in that country. The questions are ordered by focus. Links bring you to the full text of survey questions and to the observed responses.
If the country you look for is not on the list (e.g. Bhutan) that means that happiness has not yet been assessed in that country, at least not with acceptable measures of happiness in a representative sample of the national population.
Note that this does not inform you about measures used in studies other than general population surveys, such as studies on regions or particular groups in a country. As yet you cannot select such studies on this website, but it is possible using the Ms-Access database of Correlational Findings, which you can order.

Which measures of happiness have been used in earlier studies among particular people, e.g. mental patients?
Go to Happiness in Publics and browse the classification of publics. You will find mental patients under ‘Health’, public code H1.1.1. If you click on that code, a list of studies will appear in the field at the right of the screen. In that list are links to both the measures of happiness used and the findings obtained with these measures.


LEVEL OF HAPPINESS

I want to know how happy people are in a particular country, e.g. Albania
Go to Happiness in Nations and click ‘Search findings ... by nation’. A list of nations will appear on which you find Albania. Click that link and you get an overview of all the general population surveys in Albania that involved acceptable measures of happiness. The questions are ordered by focus and within focus category by year. Next to each survey question you see the mean score on it and the standard deviation. Links bring you to the full text of survey questions and to the observed distribution of the responses.
If the country you look for is not on the list (e.g. Bhutan) that means that happiness has not yet been assessed in that country, at least not with acceptable measures of happiness in a representative sample of the national population.
All the literature on happiness in nations is recorded in the Bibliography of Happiness, section 5 ‘Happiness & Society’.

I want to know how happy people are in a particular country compared to other countries. Where do a find a rank list?
Go to Happiness in Nations and under ‘Finding Reports’ click Nation Ranks. A list of Finding Reports will appear, with reports on ‘Rank of nations’ at the top. Click ‘Level (mean)’ and you will get to the latest comparative overview of average happiness in nations. This report limits to nations in which well comparable measures of happiness have been used.

I want to know how happy some kinds of people are (e.g. elderly persons). How do I get to the available knowledge?
Go to Happiness in Publics and browse the classification of publics. You will find eldere persons under AGE groups, public code A2.7. If you click on that code, a list of studies will appear in the field at the right of the screen. In that list are links to both the measures of happiness used and the findings obtained with these measures

I want to know why some people are happier than others. Where should I look?
See below under concomitants of happiness.


INEQUALITY OF HAPPINESS

I am more interested in differences in happiness than in the average level of it . Where do I find information on that matter?
Inequality of happiness in a population can be measured with the standard deviation of happiness in a sample from that population. See: Kalmijn & Veenhoven: Measuring Inequality of Happiness in Nations: In search for proper statistics, Journal of happiness Studies, vol. 6, pp. 357—396. Observed standard deviations in samples of the general population in nations can be found in Happiness in Nations Observed standard deviations in samples of social categories within nations are reported in Happiness in Publics


CONCOMITTANTS OF HAPPINESS

I want to know what kind of people tend to be happiest, e.g. whether long people are happier than short ones
This information is available in the collection of Correlational Findings in the subject category B3.2.1 ‘Length’. You can find that subcategory in three ways: The first way is using the systematic classification: begin with ‘what kind of person one is’, then select ‘physique’ and in that subcategory click ‘BODY’. The second way is browsing the alphabetic classification. You will then also come across the subject category ‘BODY’ and see that ‘Length’ is a sub-category. Lastly you can enter the key word ‘length’ in the search window and get to subject category B3.2.1 ‘Length’ right away.
You can also check the classification of Happiness in Publics to see is the are any studies exclusively among long people.

I want to know in what kind of countries people tend to be happiest, e.g. whether average happiness is higher in welfare states
This information is also available in Correlational Findings, specifically in the sections N3 National character, N4 Condition of the nation and N5 Position of the nation. Findings on the relation between happiness and state welfare effort are found in subject category N4.5.1. This category can be found on the search page in the same three ways as mentioned above: 1) using the systematic classification, beginning with ‘where one lives’, 2) using the alphabetic classification and looking under N4 ‘Condition of the nation’ and 3) entering the word ‘welfare’ in the search window.
You can also analyze this relationship yourself using the latest data available in the States of nations dataset. Browsing the topic list you will see that this collection involves comparative data about state welfare in nations. Since the dataset involves also comparable data on happiness in these nations, you can analyze the statistical relationship using the SPSS dataset that is available on request.


CHANGE OF HAPPINESS OVER TIME

I want to know whether life is getting better in modern society, e.g. are Americans happier now than 50 years ago?
In Happiness in Nations you can search findings by nation and when you select a nation you get an overview of happiness surveys ever held in that country ordered by question type and within question type by year. That latter ordering by year allows a look at change over time. In most cases the time series are too short to allow a view on the long term trend and for that reason the best comparable time series are presented separately in ‘Finding Reports’ on Time trends. In the Trend Report on Level (mean) of happiness in nations you find information on the development of average happiness in the USA since 1946.

I want to know how happiness changes over the life time, e.g. whether happiness declines in old age
One way to address this question is cross-sectional comparison of happiness across age-categories. Findings on that matter are found in Correlational Findings, subject category A4 AGE, in particular the subcategory A4.1.3 ‘Stage of Life’. The other way is to follow the same people over time and assess their happiness repeatedly. This kind of data can be found in subject category H5 HAPPINESS CAREER, in particular in the sub-category H5.2, ’Actual earlier/later happiness’ as assessed in follow-up.

I want to know to what extend happiness depends on things that change in your life, e.g. whether gaining weight will make you less happy
This information is also found in Correlational Findings. As mentioned above, that collection is classified by subject and each subject category start with a sub-category named career, e.g. ‘income career’. A further sub-category in that section is change, e.g. ‘change income’. In the case of gaining weight look under subject category B3 BODY and there B3.1.2 ‘Change in body’.
Rather than going through all these subject-categories one by one, you may also select all longitudinal findings. That is not possible on this website, but you can do it using the MS-Access database behind, which you can order.
In the Bibliography of Happiness is also a list of LONGITUDINAL STUDIES in section 18-c. On that list are more studies than reported in Correlational Findings, partly studies that are not yet entered in that collection and partly studies that do not qualify because the measure of happiness used does not fit the criteria for inclusion.

I want to know whether conditions for happiness change over time: e.g. is the relation between happiness and income still as strong as it was 50 years ago?
You can answer such questions using the Correlational Findings. In this case focus on the current section of subject categories, e.g. on ‘Current income’ (code I1.2). Select well comparable studies performed at different times and assess whether the observed statistical relations differ systematically. If such meta-analyses have been carried out earlier, the results are also stored as a finding in this database.


DIFFERENCE IN HAPPINESS ACROSS CULTURES

To what extend depends happiness of individuals on the culture in which they live, e.g. are people happier in cultures where Islam prevails?
For a view on the available research results, go to Correlations Findings and look in subject category N5 NATION, CONDITION, sub-category N4.7.3 Religiousness.
To find out yourself go to Happiness in Nations and look at the level of happiness in nations of that kind, e.g. in Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.
For a more systematic analysis use the States of Nations database, under the topic Religion of which you find the variable ‘ReliMuslims_99’

I want to know whether conditions for happiness differ across cultures: e.g. is the relation between happiness and income stronger in the USA than in other western nations?
You can answer such questions using the Correlational Findings. Focus on the current section of subject categories, e.g. on ‘Current income’ (code I1.2). Select comparable studies performed in different nations in the same era and assess whether the observed statistical relations differ systematically. Note that the standard excerpts of findings are ordered alphabetically on name of nation and within nation on year
Some of the studies in this collection of Correlational Findings set out to compare the strength of correlations across countries and in the excerpts of such findings mention all the countries involved. Such multi-nation cases are found in the top of lists of findings. Finding excerpts involving more than one nation are coded cross-national and can be selected in de MS-Access database behind this website.
In some cases you need not go trough the Correlational Findings yourself, since comparable statistics have already been gathered and entered in the States of Nations dataset under the topic Correlates of Happiness. In this case you can use the variable HLbyIncome_90s, which involves the observed correlations between happiness and family income in 63 nations in the 1990s. Looking at the values in the SPSS file one can see that the correlation is indeed relatively high in the USA and crossing with other variables in this dataset one can also get a view of the societal characteristics behind.

 


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