Political participation and life satisfaction: a cross-European analysis
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to model the link between political participation and life satisfaction whilst correcting for the endogenous nature of the relationship; explore the impact of different strengths of political participation and aim to uncover if the relationship displays different patterns by gender. Design/methodology/approach – The data originate from the 2006/2007 European Social Survey. The analysis spanned across a pooled data set for 20 European countries. Three alternative empirical frameworks were trialled: an ordered probit regression, a linear regression model and a two‐step, simultaneous treatment effect model to address endogeneity concerns. Findings – Following the correction for endogeneity via two‐step, simultaneous treatment regressions, political participation – and specifically strong political engagement – displays a robust, statistically significant, strong and positive impact on life satisfaction. It was deduced that actual political participation, and not merely the right to participate in the political process, is a source of procedural utility. Research limitations/implications – The cross‐sectional nature of the data imposes design limitations to examining trends and changes over time. It follows that the analysis cannot rely on fixed‐effect estimations to control for time‐invariant factors. Originality/value – Once the results are corrected for endogeneity, the empirical results reveal that the effect of actual political participation on life satisfaction not only matters, but also as the strength of political engagement grows it matters even more. Findings hold true even when a multitude of socio‐demographic characteristics are controlled for. These are important results for researchers and policy makers who are concerned about the happiness of people in democratic societies.
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