The impact of wealth on subjective well-being : A comparison of three welfare-state regimes

Faculty/Professorship: Lehrstuhl für Soziologie I
Author(s): Hochman, Oshrat; Skopek, Nora
Title of the Journal: Research in Social Stratification and Mobility
ISSN: 0276-5624
Publisher Information: Amsterdam : Elsevier Science
Year of publication: 2013
Volume: 34
Pages: 127-141
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1016/j.rssm.2013.07.003
This paper provides new insights into the association between economic standing and subjective well-being (SWB) among aging individuals in three industrialized countries: Germany, Israel, and Sweden. Specifically, we compare the effects of wealth, in line with the growing consensus that wealth is an important determinant of economic standing alongside income, on SWB across three welfare-state regimes: conservative (Germany), liberal (Israel), and social-democratic (Sweden). Drawing on needs theory, we hypothesize that individuals of poor wealth would report lower levels of SWB in all countries. We expect, however, the association between poor wealth and SWB to be stronger in the liberal system (Israel) and weaker in the conservative system (Germany) with the weakest effect found in the social-democratic system (Sweden) due to differences in the extent of social benefits each welfare-state regime provides its residents. To test our hypotheses, we utilize data from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe(SHARE1). Results indicate that income and wealth explain a greater part of the variance in SWB when taken together. We find a ‘poor penalty’ on SWB in Germany and Israel while in Sweden wealth has no impact on SWB. Finally, when controlling for subjective economic hardship (needs), the negative effect of poor wealth on SWB disappears in Germany, but maintains significance in Israel, suggesting that needs theory alone cannot explain the poor penalty in Israel. In conclusion, our findings suggest that the welfare-state has an impact on the wealth–SWB relation and that the mechanisms that underlie this relation operate differently in Germany and Israel.
GND Keywords: Deutschland; Israel; Schweden; Wohlfahrtsstaat; Wohlbefinden; SHARE (Projekt). SHARELIFE
Keywords: Subjective well-being; Welfare-state; Income; Wealth; SHARE
DDC Classification: 300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology  
RVK Classification: MS 4420   
Type: Article
Release Date: 24. March 2022