Postmaterialist Values Contribute to and Alleviate Global Well-being Disparities: Evidence from Gallup World Poll data

Author Name YOO Sunbin (Kyushu University) / KUMAGAI Junya (Fukuoka University) / Thierry COULIBALY (Kyushu University) / MANAGI Shunsuke (Faculty Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. February 2024 24-E-017
Research Project Institutional design to achieve a society of well-being
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Rural populations globally tend to report lower subjective well-being (SWB) than their urban counterparts. Although most solutions to this problem have focused on increasing material gains, our research, drawing from Gallup World Poll data and regression analysis with an instrumental variables approach, underscores the importance of postmaterialist values such as free choice, community attachment and education in explaining the disparity. Grounded in Inglehart’s theory which traces human aspirations from survival to higher ambitions, and empirical findings on the impact of postmaterialism on well-being, we argue that embracing postmaterialist values is crucial to enhancing rural well-being and lessening the urban-rural divide in terms of SWB. Notably, this holds true not only for countries with high GDP but also for less affluent countries. By exploring a range of well-being indicators, including factors such as positive and negative experiences, and honing in on specific postmaterialist elements, our research provides compelling evidence for prioritizing these postmaterialist values in rural areas to effectively address SWB disparities.