Nordic Social Attitudes in a European Perspective

Nordic Social Attitudes in a European Perspective

Edited by Heikki Ervasti, Torben Fridberg, Mikael Hjerm and Kristen Ringdal

Providing highly rigorous and up-to-date data, with a wide coverage of topics, this book will be of great interest to academics and students in sociology, social policy and political science. It will also appeal to anyone interested in the Nordic countries in general.

Chapter 3: Health and Happiness

Terje Andreas Eikemo, Arne Mastekaasa and Kristen Ringdal

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy

Extract

Terje Andreas Eikemo, Arne Mastekaasa and Kristen Ringdal INTRODUCTION The study of general health and happiness has been thought of as different fields; the first mainly located within public health, and the second within the field of quality of life. Given the closeness of the concepts, the lack of links in the research literature between studies of general health and happiness may come as a surprise. In this chapter we consider health and happiness to be related but separate concepts. We do not, however, attempt to disentangle the nature of their relationship. We keep an open mind as to whether happiness is promoting health or whether health rather leads to happiness, or whether happiness is best seen as a component of health. A common conclusion in quality of life research is that subjective wellbeing is only very weakly related to material living conditions (for reviews, see Arthaud-Day and Near 2005; Diener and Biswas-Diener 2002). Indeed, early findings of such weak relationships in the pioneering quality of life studies of the 1970s (in particular, Campbell et al. 1976; Andrews and Withey 1976) have led to a proliferation of theoretical interpretations, which mostly focus on various kinds of social comparison and adaptation effects. Whereas the weak effects of material living conditions are commonly emphasized in quality of life research, the situation is quite different in research on health, including subjectively assessed health. In this field, income, social class and other indicators of material living conditions are generally considered...

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