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Inequality and Life Satisfaction in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: The Role of Opportunity

1
Department of Quantitative Methods for the Economy and Business, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Granada, 18011 Granada, Spain
2
Department of Theory and Economic History, University of Granada, 18011 Granada, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Societies 2019, 9(2), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9020037
Received: 4 April 2019 / Revised: 8 May 2019 / Accepted: 9 May 2019 / Published: 15 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Subjective Well-being Under the Scope of Public Policies)
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Abstract

This study delves into the relationship between income inequality and subjective well-being by gauging the role played by opportunities at the country level. Using data from the World Value Survey, we estimate multilevel models to explain cross-country differences in individuals’ life satisfaction. Opportunity and inequality exert a significant effect per se on life satisfaction, and their joint effect explains the puzzling positive relationship between income inequality and life satisfaction in low- and middle-income countries. Income inequalities reduce the well-being of individuals if opportunities are low, but inequality is not relevant for life satisfaction if opportunities in the country are high. Among the aspects of opportunity that really matter, we show that inclusiveness and access to advanced education play a more major role than political freedom or personal rights. Results apply for different social, income, and education groups.
Keywords: life satisfaction; subjective well-being; income inequality; opportunity life satisfaction; subjective well-being; income inequality; opportunity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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García-Muñoz, T.M.; Milgram-Baleix, J.; Odeh-Odeh, O. Inequality and Life Satisfaction in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: The Role of Opportunity. Societies 2019, 9, 37.

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