Empirical studies on happiness have found that: a) most people are happy in modern nations, b) average happiness in nations is rising, c) inequality in happiness is going down, d) happiness depends heavily on the kind of society one lives in, but e) not very much on one’s place in society. These remarkable findings are largely ignored in sociology, if not denied. This has several reasons. One reason is professional bias: most sociologists earn their living dealing with social problems are therefore not apt to see that people flourish. Another reason is ideological: many sociologists are ‘critical’ of modern society and can therefore hardly imagine that people thrive in these conditions. Lastly, some sociological theories play them false, in particular cognitive theories implying that happiness is relative. These theories and the evidence against them are discussed in this paper.
VeenhovenR.World Database of Happiness: Archive of research findings on subjective appreciation of life Section Correlational findings2013aErasmus university Rotterdamhttp://worlddatabaseofhappiness.eur.nl
VeenhovenR.SheldonK.LucasR.‘Long-term change of happiness in nations: To times more rise than decline since the 1970s’Stability of happiness: Theories and evidence on whether happiness can change2014Elsevier Publishing167200chapter 9
VeenhovenR.KalmijnW.‘Inequality-adjusted happiness in nations: Egalitarianism and utilitarianism married together in a new index of societal performance’Journal of Happiness Studies20056(Special issue on inequality of happiness in nations)421455