The Subjective Well-Being Political Paradox: Evidence from Latin America

  • Lucía MacchiaEmail author
  • Anke C. Plagnol


The subjective well-being political paradox describes that individuals are on average more satisfied with their lives under left-leaning (liberal) governments than under right-leaning (conservative) governments; however, at the individual level, people who identify as leaning politically more to the right show higher life satisfaction than those who describe themselves as leaning to the left. The present study investigates whether this paradox, previously found in Europe, can also be found across 18 Latin American countries by using data from 9 waves of the Latinobarómetro survey. In addition to life satisfaction, we consider respondents’ self-rated ability to meet their financial needs in a satisfactory manner, which can be seen as a proxy for satisfaction with income. Latin America is an interesting region to study this question because of its political history and the emergence of left-leaning governments during the last 15 years. After controlling for macroeconomic indicators and socio-demographic factors, we find that people report higher life satisfaction and a better ability to meet their financial needs under left-leaning governments compared to centre and right-leaning governments. In contrast, conservative individuals report higher financial and overall well-being than liberal individuals. Our findings confirm the subjective well-being political paradox previously found in Europe.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.City, University of LondonLondonUK

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