Bohnke and Kohler published in January of 2008 a fascinating study about “Well-being and Inequality“. A survey among 18.000 people across Europe combined a selfreported form of subjective well-being with factors like income, eduation, health, environment and so on.
An objective and a subjective approach to study well-being is introduced. The objectiveapproach is particularly useful to compare the quality of life of given societies across timeand space. Using the objective approach, we can identify strong differences of qualityof life between European countries. In comparison to Western Europe, East Europeancountries tend to have a rather low quality of life. Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden,Denmark and Belgium form a cluster of countries with high quality of life.
The subjective approach to study well-being is useful for investigating the importance of dimensions ofsocial inequality for people themselves. It is shown that most of the inequality dimensionstraditionally analysed by social scientists affect people’s subjective well-being. However,it is also shown that some of the more materialistic inequality dimensions (such as income)tend to be less important in rich societies, while certain non-materialistic dimensions (suchas family) are getting more important. The subjective approach to study well-being is alsoused to investigate the importance of characteristics of societies for people’s well-being.
In the field of leisure Bohnke and Kohler studied also church-attendance, voluntary work AND internet access. In this chapter Bohnke and Kohler wrote that “people that are connected to the Internet are considerably more satisfied with their lives.”
You can download the discussion paper here.