A new study has revealed that people living in countries with governments that spend more on social services report being more contented.
According to a study by researchers at Baylor University, the effect of state intervention into the economy equals or exceeds marriage or employment status - two traditional predictors of happiness - when it comes to satisfaction.
The scientists found that the Great Recession from December 2007 to June 2009 heightened debate about how much governments should intervene into the market economy. Conservatives and right-leaning political parties tend to champion free market capitalism and are critical of government intervention, maintaining it can lead to inefficiency and waste that hurts employment, wages, and economic growth. By contrast, left-leaning political parties and labor organizations argue for more intervention into the market to even out the ups and downs of the business cycle.
It was found that on a scale of 1 to 10 - with 10 the highest level of satisfaction - the average rating for all respondents for the duration of the survey was 7.48. The United States was ranked at No. 11 out of 21 countries on the list, with an average rating of 7.61.
The findings held true regardless of whether respondents were rich or poor. The researchers also ruled out alternative explanations such as an individual's health, education level, and marital status as well as the gross national product and unemployment rate of the country that he or she lives in.
The study was published in the journal Social Forces.