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The Relationship between Happiness, Income, and Unemployment Rate in Arab and Western Countries

Ahmed M. Abdel-Khalek and Adel Shokry Korayem

Abstract

Happiness surveys have been conducted extensively by psychologists. More recently, economists have used happiness to assess welfare by combining the techniques typically used by economists with those more commonly used by psychologists. The aim of this study was to explore the happiness associations with per capita income and unemployment rate, using the single-item Self-Rating Scale of Happiness with samples of college students from six Arab countries, the UK, and USA (N = 3,023 total). The high-income countries (Qatar, Kuwait, UK, USA) obtained higher self-ratings of happiness than did the low-income countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria). The correlations with per capita income (positive) and unemployment rate (negative) ranged from .48 to .67, but they were not statistically significant as a result of the small sample size. However, using descriptive statistics and t-tests, it was found that the high-income countries had significantly higher mean scores on happiness than the low-income countries. The correlations were significant with both Gallup World Poll (males and females) and the World Values Survey (males only), supporting the validity of the Self-Rating Scale of Happiness. It is recommended to replicate this study using a larger number of countries.

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