Economic hardship, institutions and subjective well-being in Latin America

Research output: Working paperAcademic


We use the 2016-17 wave of the LAPOP AmericasBarometer survey to investigate
the relationship between economic hardship and subjective well-being (SWB) for
Latin America. In addition, we analyze whether the negative effect of economic
hardship on SWB can be mitigated by immaterial resources rather than material
resources. Analogous to Reeskens and Vandecasteele (2017) regarding Europe, we
compare the impact of the institutions social trust, religiosity, and confidence in
politics with the impact of welfare state expenditures in Latin America. Our results
also show that economic hardship has a negative effect on subjective wellbeing. In
contrast to the findings for Europe, the negative effect of economic hardship can be strengthened or attenuated depending on the degree of religiosity and
trustworthiness of the community. The moderating effect of confidence in politics
was not found. Concerning the moderating influence of welfare state expenditure,
our findings are partly in line with the results for Europe. In Europe a larger social
welfare state suppresses the informal institutions social contacts and confidence in politics whereas in Latin America a larger social welfare state overturns
interpersonal trust (as a proxy for social contacts) and religiosity. Hence, we also
find evidence for the crowding out hypothesis, namely that in more generous
welfare states one is less dependent on their immaterial resources for finding
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUSE Research Institute
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Publication series

NameU.S.E. Working paper series
PublisherUU USE Research Institute
ISSN (Electronic)2666-8238


  • subjective well-being
  • life satisfaction
  • hapiness
  • economic hardship
  • institutions


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