Original Research

The determinants of subjective well-being in South Africa: An exploratory enquiry

Derick Blaauw, Anmar Pretorius
Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences | Vol 6, No 1 | a283 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jef.v6i1.283 | © 2018 Derick Blaauw, Anmar Pretorius | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 June 2018 | Published: 30 April 2013

About the author(s)

Derick Blaauw, Department of Economics and Econometrics, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Anmar Pretorius, Department of Economics, Monash South Africa, South Africa

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The study of subjective well-being is no longer on the periphery of study in the field of economics. A significant body of literature exists on the determinants of subjective well-being in the developed world. This paper uses the first wave of the National Income Dynamics Survey (NIDS) dataset to investigate the determinants of subjective well-being in South Africa, involving a broad range of economic, socio-economic and attitudinal variables identified from literature. Ordinary Least Squares and ordered probit estimations reveal that age, race, level of income, years of education, gender, marital status and the number of children explain varying levels of well-being. Unlike studies in the developed world, respondents’ height, health and residence in urban areas do not explain well-being. Two of the surprising findings point towards the significant influence of religion and provincial location in determining well-being in South Africa.


subjective well-being; happiness; NIDS; ordered probit; OLS


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