Does political orientation affect happiness? The case of South Korea

Y. Kim, S. W. Lee, T. H. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is well known that in the US, conservatives are happier than liberals. The first empirical evidence for such a happiness gap between the two political groups was presented in 2006, and many subsequent studies have confirmed the finding consistently. In this study, we investigated whether a similar finding can be observed in the case of the Republic of Korea. We attempted to make a statistical estimation of the effect of political orientation on happiness using a dataset called 'Seoul Survey', which provides information on the happiness and political orientation of about 46000 citizens living in Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea. By controlling for all relevant socio-economic characteristics of each individual in the survey dataset, we found that political orientation has a significant effect on the level of subjective well-being or happiness. In contrast to the results observed in the US, our regression results indicated that liberals are significantly happier than conservatives. We also attempted to interpret the happiness gap in terms of monetary value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-118
Number of pages17
JournalApplied Econometrics
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments. Tae‑Hwan Kim is grateful for financial support from the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF‑ 2017S1A5A2A01025435). Yunmi Kim acknowledges that this work was supported by the 2019 sabbatical year research grant of the University of Seoul.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Sinergia Press. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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