How do a society’s policies about openness, equality, and privacy affect the citizens who live in it? New research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that citizens living in more open and tolerant countries are significantly happier.
Researchers from Kyoto University in Japan and the Polish Academy of Sciences in Poland looked at 90 countries to analyze the correlation between societal openness and life satisfaction. They used the World Happiness Report and the World Values Survey to analyze satisfaction and assessed openness by looking at tolerance toward homosexuality, trust toward other people, readiness to sign a petition, and beliefs regarding materialism.
The correlation was positive with countries like Sweden, Switzerland, and Norway ranking in the top 5 for both categories. Critics have argued that these countries have higher GDPs, resulting in higher life satisfaction, but researchers found similar results even when controlling for GDP.
The debate over the source of societal happiness is highly contested, but research like this is important in drawing the baseline correlation between citizen satisfaction and governments which support personal expression, tolerance, and autonomy.