Title: Happiness in ASEAN member states

Authors: Thomas Wai-Kee Yuen; Winnie Wan-Ling Chu

Addresses: Department of Economics and Finance, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Braemar Hill, Hong Kong, China ' Department of Economics and Finance, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Braemar Hill, Hong Kong, China

Abstract: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will be following in the footsteps of China and India in order to become a major economic growth engine in Asia. However, despite its great economic success, there have been increasing inquiries into whether or not economic achievements can bring happiness to ASEAN people. This paper focuses on investigating the relationship between happiness and economic development in ten specific Asian cultures using panel data. One common feature which appears, from examining the fixed effect model, is that the unobservable heterogeneous variables are significant in all models. This implies that Asian cultural and social values play an important role in affecting the happiness of ASEAN member states. When considering relationships between happiness and economic variables, the empirical results are mixed. One possible explanation may be that some of the rich ASEAN member states have reached a level of affluence where money has little effect on enhancing happiness. The saying that 'money cannot buy happiness' is true for richer member states, but not for poor- or middle-income member states, where having insufficient money on which to subsist makes achieving happiness an issue.

Keywords: happiness; Southeast Asia; ASEAN member states; economic development; culture; social values; panel OLS; ordinary least squares; fixed effect; Gallup world poll; GWP; happy planet index; HPI; economic growth.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHD.2015.067609

International Journal of Happiness and Development, 2015 Vol.2 No.1, pp.69 - 83

Received: 03 Dec 2013
Accepted: 13 Aug 2014

Published online: 22 Apr 2015 *

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