Happiness trends under democracy: where will the new South African set-level come to rest?

Møller, V. (2001) Happiness trends under democracy: where will the new South African set-level come to rest? Journal of Happiness Studies, 2 (1). pp. 33-53. ISSN 1389-4978



Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1011557404822


Five years after South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, life satisfaction and happiness still reflect societal divides sowed by apartheid social engineering. The paper reports the indicators: life satisfaction, happiness and expectations for the future, from national surveys conducted between 1983 and 1999 for the South African Quality-of-Life Trends Project. Post-election euphoria, which saw all South Africans happy and satisfied with life for a brief moment in 1994, raises the question where the new set-level of subjective well-being will eventually come to rest. In 1999, in spite of some gains in living conditions, the level of life satisfaction of blacks has not risen above the mid-point and happiness is only slightly above the midpoint. Meanwhile, whites, who have forfeited their political dominance, continue to score above the mid-point on happiness and life satisfaction. The paper draws on the literature, particularly on quality-of-life trends in reunified Germany and paradoxical trends in African-American life satisfaction when discussing the dynamics underlying South African subjective well-being. It is argued that coping mechanisms may play an important role in determining levels of subjective well-being in the complex situation of South Africa.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
Uncontrolled Keywords:expectations; happiness; life satisfaction; relative deprivation; South Africa
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Research Institutes and Units > Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER)
ID Code:674
Deposited On:31 May 2007
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:18
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