National Happiness and Genetic Distance: A Cautious Exploration

Eugenio Proto, Andrew J. Oswald*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2127-2152
Number of pages26
JournalEconomic Journal
Issue number604
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017

Structured keywords

  • ECON Applied Economics


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