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National Happiness and Genetic Distance: A Cautious Exploration

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Eugenio Proto
  • Andrew J. Oswald
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2127-2152
Number of pages26
JournalEconomic Journal
Issue number604
DateAccepted/In press - 4 Dec 2015
DatePublished (current) - 1 Sep 2017


This article studies a famous unsolved puzzle in quantitative social science. Why do some nations report such high levels of mental well-being? Denmark, for instance, regularly tops the league table of rich countries’ happiness; Britain and the US enter further down; some nations do unexpectedly poorly. The explanation for the long-observed ranking – one that holds after adjustment for GDP and other socioeconomic variables – is currently unknown. Using data on 131 countries, the article cautiously explores a new approach. It documents three forms of evidence consistent with the hypothesis that some nations may have a genetic advantage in well-being.

    Structured keywords

  • ECON Applied Economics



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