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Subjective Well-Being and Quality of Government – Why Happy Citizens Are Good for Democracy

Conference contribution
Authors Peter Esaiasson
Stefan Dahlberg
Andrej Kokkonen
Mikael Gilljam
Published in Annual Political Science Association Meeting, San Francisco, September 3-6
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Political Science
Language en
Keywords legtimacy; political support; quality of life; Quality of Government
Subject categories Political Science


We propose that citizens hold state authorities responsible for their subjective well-being. When things go well, citizens reward authorities with support. When life conditions fall below the expected level, citizens punish authorities by withholding support. As a consequence, peoples’ well-being collectively affects the long- term conditions for high quality government by building or dismantling voluntary compliant behavior. Three types of empirical evidence support the argument: First, cross-sectional data from European Value Survey 2008 shows that life satisfaction predicts political support attitudes controlling for individual-level and country-level factors. Second, data from the Swiss Household Panel documents that political support attitudes are undermined by the termination of a close personal relationship. Third, data from an original panel of Swedish vacation travelers shows that support attitudes are undermined by the trivial experience of a failed vacation in the sun.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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