NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Despite the rantings that dominate U.S. pop culture against big government, a comprehensive survey finds that people who live in nations where the national governments spend more on social services are much happier than people with more laissez-faire governments.
For the study -- Assessing the Impact of the Size and Scope of Government on Human Well-Being -- which was published in the journal Social Forces, researchers analyzed data from 50,000 respondents in 21 advanced industrialized countries collected by the World Values Survey from 1981 to 2007.
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"The effect of state intervention into the economy equals or exceeds marriage or employment status -- two traditional predictors of happiness -- when it comes to satisfaction," said Patrick Flavin, an assistant professor of political science in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences and co-author of the study.
The Great Recession that started in 2007 has kicked off a debate about how much governments should intervene in the market economy, with conservatives often championing free market capitalism with minimal government intervention. By contrast, left-leaning politicians and labor organizations tend to argue for more government intervention to compensate for shortcomings of the market and the social inequalities that are caused or worsened by them.
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