Globally Happy: Individual Globalization, Expanded Capacities, and Subjective Wellbeing

Abstract

Deep integration of Asia into the global society necessarily affects wellbeing of local populations. This study proposes a notion of “extend capacities” to explain the relationships between individual globalization and subjective wellbeing among Asian populations in a context of increasing global integration. Using Amartya Sen’s theory of human capacities as a point of departure, we advance a distinctive list of expanded capacities, which includes English ability, global exposure and foreign contacts via jobs. Empirical findings from our multilevel analysis of a large sample from 14 Asian countries show the consistent impact of mastering a global lingua franca on job satisfaction, perceived life accomplishment, and happiness. Global exposure also generates some favorable influences.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See also Ball and Chernova (2008); Hagerty et al. (2001); Sirgy et al. (2006).

  2. 2.

    Critiques of Sen also highlight its insufficient attention to distribution and equality of actual abilities, a research question which, unfortunately, is beyond the scope of this study (see Fleurbaey 2006).

  3. 3.

    In some situations quota sampling was used as supplementary methods to obtain a sample comparable with that of a country. There were some compromises, however. For Viet Nam, major urban populations were sampled. Some proportions of the population, for example, people in isolated islands or rural areas, were excluded due to practical constraints in the field.

  4. 4.

    We use family income to explore the influence of a family’s economic resources; information of personal income was not collected in the AB survey. Our way of operationalization allows us to capture the effects of relative economic status within a country.

  5. 5.

    The original question is: Generally, do you think people can be trusted or do think that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people? The responses are binary: most people can be trusted (= 1); or can’t be too careful in dealing with people (= 0).

  6. 6.

    National income, measured in year of 2005, was drawn from the web of the World Bank (www.worldbank.com). A composite democracy index was drawn from the Freedom House (www.freedomhouse.org). It was an average score of 2004–2006 to even out possible fluctuations in certain countries.

  7. 7.

    Not surprisingly, Singapore registers the highest percentage (23.8%) as this country’s financial and productive sectors are deeply embedded in global markets. Hong Kong ranks the second, but lags far behind with its statistic of 9.3%.

  8. 8.

    It might be because females tend to have lower scores and thus less variation in this language variable, which it renders our modeling poorly fit. However, this is not the case we found there is no difference in English ability across genders.

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Tsai, MC., Chang, HH. & Chen, Wc. Globally Happy: Individual Globalization, Expanded Capacities, and Subjective Wellbeing. Soc Indic Res 108, 509–524 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-011-9890-x

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Keywords

  • Happiness
  • Asia
  • Globalization
  • Capacities theory