What Makes Georgians Happy? Results from World Values Survey

By David McArdle

What makes Georgians satisfied with life? Religion, education, one’s financial situation, and levels of happiness are often assumed to be crucial in determining a person’s overall level of life satisfaction. Results yielded from the World Values Survey (WVS) reveal that religion does indeed play an important role vis-à-vis life satisfaction while levels of education, financial situations, and levels of individual happiness, do so as well, but to a lesser extent.

Religion is of paramount importance across Georgia. For instance, a staggering 94 percent of those who claimed to be completely satisfied in life felt that religion was ‘very important’. Yet, those respondents who were completely unsatisfied with life as a whole displayed less emphasis on the prevalence of religion as a significantly lower 76 percent judged religion to be ‘very important’.

A university education also slightly increases the chances of life satisfaction as a whole as 42 percent of those respondents who claimed complete life satisfaction had obtained a university-level education. Interestingly, however, 31 percent of respondents who asserted to be completely dissatisfied in life satisfaction also had a university-level education. The majority of those who stated they were completely dissatisfied in life as a whole were respondents whose education reached complete secondary: university preparatory type education (33 percent) thus showing that whilst one might expect those with lower levels of education to have less life satisfaction, this is not always the case.

Perhaps Georgians do not always equate money with overall life satisfaction. With regard to the financial situation of the household, 23 percent of those completely satisfied in life as a whole were also completely satisfied with the financial situation of the household. Oddly, however, the most common response to this query given by those who were completely satisfied with life as a whole stated that they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with the financial situation of the household. In other words, they appeared indifferent which suggests that the financial situation of the household is not a key factor in determining overall satisfaction in life.

In many cases, people who are satisfied with life also indicate that they are happy. Comparing overall life satisfaction with levels of happiness shows that fully 92 percent purport to be ‘very’ or ‘rather happy’. But life satisfaction and happiness are not always synonymous. Paradoxically, from those who claim to be completely dissatisfied in life, for instance, 32 percent still claim to be ‘very’ or ‘rather happy’. Georgians, hence, appear to find satisfaction in other forms rather than a conventional factor such as individual happiness, as 8 percent of those completely satisfied with life also say that they are not very happy. Further research on the aforementioned paradox may be beneficial for those interested in the region and/or on the topic of what factors provide overall life satisfaction for people.

Interested in finding out more? The Georgian data (collected by GORBI, sponsored with the help of CRRC) is available for your online analysis, here.