Working Paper No. 1101

What Aspects of Society Affect the Quality of Life of a Minority? Global Evidence from the New Gay Happiness Index

Published: December 22, 2015Pages: 47Keywords: Gays; Homosexuality; Minorities; Happiness; Wellbeing; Life satisfaction; Institutions; Democracy; GlobalizationJEL-codes: I31; Z13; Z18

What Aspects of Society Affect the Quality of Life of a Minority? Global Evidence from the New Gay Happiness Index Niclas Berggren, Christian Bjørnskov and Therese Nilsson

There is great variation in views on and treatment of minorities such as gay men across the world. We are the first to pinpoint what features of societies that are beneficial to gay men’s quality of life by making use of a unique new cross-country dataset covering 110 countries, the Gay Happiness Index. It covers how gays perceive public opinion about them, how they experience behavior towards them and how satisfied they are with their lives.

Our study is based on the premise that it is important to look at minority-specific effects of policies and institutions and not solely at the effects for the average citizen, as well as the transmission mechanisms through which policies and institutions affect life satisfaction.

We find that legal rights for gay men, GDP per capita, democracy and economic globalization tend to benefit gays, primarily by shaping public opinion and behavior in a pro-gay direction, while religion and living in a post-communist country exert a negative effect. These factors have largely been shown to matter for the well-being of people in general as well, which interestingly implies that “special rights” are not necessarily needed for gays but the same policies that provide a good life for most people.

Niclas Berggren


Ph: +46 8 665 4520

Therese Nilsson


Ph: +46 46 222 4643
Mob: +46 73 396 7919

Christian Bjørnskov


Ph: +45 87 16 48 19
Mob: +45 20 12 03 84

Sick of Inequality?

An Introduction to the Relationship between Inequality and Health

Sick of Inequality.jpg

In this book Andreas Bergh, Therese Nilsson, IFN and Lund University, and Daniel Waldenström, IFN and Paris School of Economics, France, review the latest research on the relationship between inequality and health. What does inequality mean for our health? Does increasing income inequality affect outcomes such as obesity, life expectancy and subjective well-being?


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