The Happiness of Nations

A Comparative Analysis of OECD Countries

In: Comparative Sociology
Milan Zafirovski Department of Sociology, University of North Texas Denton, Texas USA

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This paper reexamines the concept and determinants of happiness within global society involving Western and comparable societies such as OECD countries. The review of the literature suggests that it leaves a certain void with respect to the bearing of types of contemporary societies on happiness and its societal conditions. The paper argues that a particular type of these societies, denoted as the combination of welfare capitalism and liberal democracy, tends to create the best societal conditions for a happier society than do other types, such as those described as the compound of oligarchic-plutocratic capitalism and illiberal ‘democracy’ and mixed social systems. It then presents varied evidence in strong support of the argument demonstrating that this type of society is the most successful in creating objective conditions for realizing the ideal of the ‘greatest happiness to the greatest number’ of its members compared to its opposite and mixed alternatives. The paper concludes that the evidence strongly confirms that welfare capitalism/liberal democracy functions as the strongest determinant and predictor of the happiness of societies today.

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