Shadow of the Sun – The Distribution of Wellbeing in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Benjamin J. RobertsEmail author
  • Steven L. Gordon
  • Valerie Møller
  • Jarè Struwig
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


Despite the enthusiasm that prevailed during sub-Saharan Africa’s initial wave of independence, representations of quality of life in the region over the last half-century focused on themes that typically characterize failed states: maladministration, violence and conflict, disease, impoverishment and suffering. Although considerable hardship persists, the subcontinent experienced impressive economic growth over the last decade. This, together with increasing gains from state-led social spending, has prompted a new narrative that speaks of promise and opportunity. Against this backdrop, the chapter reviews quality of life in the region using select objective and subjective wellbeing measures. The results confirm the general pattern of recent social progress, though lingering deprivation, inequality and often difficult political conditions. While this situation is reflected in relatively low life satisfaction evaluations, it is also accompanied by a resolute optimism that attests to the resilience of the region’s citizens in the face of adversity. The chapter also assesses the influence of certain objective conditions on subjective wellbeing at the macro-level.


Sub-Saharan Africa Happiness Life satisfaction Subjective wellbeing Quality of life 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin J. Roberts
    • 1
    Email author
  • Steven L. Gordon
    • 1
  • Valerie Møller
    • 2
  • Jarè Struwig
    • 1
  1. 1.Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery Research ProgrammeHuman Sciences Research CouncilDurbanSouth Africa
  2. 2.Institute of Social and Economic ResearchRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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