Happy people or happy places? A multilevel modeling approach to the analysis of happiness and well-being

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2012


This article aims to add a regional science perspective and a geographical dimension to our understanding of substantive questions regarding self-reported happiness and well-being through the specification and use of multilevel models. Multilevel models are used with data from the British Household Panel Survey and the Census of UK population to assess the nature and extent of variations in happiness and well-being to determine the relative importance of the area (district, region), household, and individual characteristics on these outcomes. Having taken into account the characteristics at these different levels, we are able to determine whether any areas are associated with especially positive or negative feelings of happiness and well-being. Whilst we find that most of the variation in happiness and well-being is attributable to the individual level, some variation in these measures is also found at the household and area levels, especially for the measure of well-being, before we control for the full set of individual, household, and area characteristics. However, once we control for these characteristics, the variation in happiness and well-being is not found to be statistically significant between areas.

Published in

International Regional Science Review

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 35 , p.70 -102







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