Title: Has modernisation gone too far? Modernity and happiness in 141 contemporary nations

Authors: Ruut Veenhoven; Maarten Berg

Addresses: Erasmus University Rotterdam, POB 1738 3000DR Rotterdam, Netherlands; North-West University, POB 1174, Vanderbijlpark, 1900, South Africa ' University of Amsterdam, AIAS, Plantage Muidergracht, 12 1018 TV Amsterdam, Netherlands

Abstract: Modern society comes in for a great deal of criticism, such as about increasing individualisation, globalisation and technologisation, which is seen to reduce the quality of life. This claim was investigated in a comparative study of 141 present-day countries. Eight aspects of modernity were considered: industrialisation, size of the service sector, economic freedom, real income per capita, globalisation, level of education, political democracy and urbanisation. Happiness in different countries was measured as the average response to survey questions on life-satisfaction, affect and contentment. Analysis shows that people living in most modern countries are substantially happier than people in the less modern countries are. The patterns are generally linear. In a subset of western nations, greater modernity still goes with greater happiness. Although the advantages of societal modernisation may be finite, modernisation has not yet undermined human happiness.

Keywords: happiness; livability; quality of life; modernisation; societal development; international survey; modernity; industrialisation, service sector; economic freedom; real income per capita; globalisation; education level; political democracy; urbanisation; life satisfaction; affect; contentment.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHD.2013.055645

International Journal of Happiness and Development, 2013 Vol.1 No.2, pp.172 - 195

Received: 06 Dec 2012
Accepted: 25 Feb 2013

Published online: 19 Jul 2014 *

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