By Associate Professor Ng Wei Ting, Head, Master of Applied Research in Social Sciences
Using the Gallup World Poll data, this study examined whether national income inequality moderated the effects of affluence on subjective well-being (SWB). Multilevel analyses revealed that people were more satisfied with their lives in years of higher national GDP. Cross-nation differences were also found; people in wealthier nations or nations with greater income inequality reported higher life satisfaction and positive feelings than those in poorer or more equal nations.
Importantly, national income inequality moderated the effects of individual-level income on SWB. People with higher incomes reported greater life satisfaction and positive feelings, and lower negative feelings than those with lower incomes, but the effects were stronger in more equal nations. These findings suggest that money matters less to the SWB of people in unequal nations than those in equal nations.