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Thread: How Culture Influences Your Well-Being?

  1. #1 How Culture Influences Your Well-Being? 
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    SWB and the Cultural Systems

    Lin, Ershen

    1. Preliminary Analysis
    Research on subjective ware-being (SWB) has become increasingly important as people rediscover the spiritual value in a prosperous materialistic world.
    It is difficult to correlate SWB index with conventional social development indices, even though tentative correlations have been proposed with health, longevity, income and education. The SWB data from Marks et al. indicate that figure of Japan and South Korea is close to Vietnam and Philippines and lower than China and Mongolia, while the figure of US is close to Venezuela. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that the figure of France is closer to developing countries than most of its European neighbors. The overall socioeconomic development could only explain the lower scores of the African countries in general and perhaps the lower scores of the Latin American countries as compared to the US. Any further understanding of the SWB phenomenon requires new approaches.
    If we survey the overall situation without preconceived notions, we will firstly notice a regional correlation: the higher scored regions are North America, Northern Europe, Central Europe, followed by Australasia, Gulf countries, then the Caribbean countries, Asia, Eastern Europe and coastal African countries, while the former Soviet republics (except Central Asia) and central Africa are at the bottom of the list. Geography could be a factor, although religion and language are more likely the root cause. The advantage of Protestant over the catholic and the orthodox countries are obvious, although this could also be explained as an advantage of the Germanic over the Latin and Slavic languages.
    In Asia, the Hinduist and the Buddhist countries could be grouped together, with Bhutan as an exception. Since countries within this group differ greatly in their socioeconomic development and their languages, their similarity could be best explained by their common religious root. The Islamic countries, on the other hand, have very different scores, which are more closely associated with their economic development.
    Hence, all the countries are tentatively divided into six cultural groups: Protestant/Germanic, Catholic/Latino, Eastern Orthodox/Slavic, Hinduist-Buddhist, Islamic/Arabic and African groups.
    Another factor to be considered is the size of the country. Within each group, the smaller country tend to score higher than the larger ones: Canada over USA, New Zealand over Australia, Ireland over UK, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands over Germany, Luxemburg over France, Malta over Italy, Cyprus over Greece and Turkey, Brunei over Malaysia, while the exception being Russia over Ukraine. Overall speaking the advantage of the smaller countries could be caused by lesser responsibility and stress of smaller countries.

    2. Statistical Analyses and the Six Cultural Groups
    The cultural factors and the population factors proposed above are subjected to statistical analyses. SWB is treated as a continuous variable.
    The mean and SD of each religious group are calculated and shown in Table 1. To eliminate potential influence of the economic factors, the third world countries are eliminated from the protestant and the catholic groups and listed (*) as well. The result show that the Protestant countries rank on the top of the list, while Orthodox countries rank at the bottom. The result from the t-tests show that score of the Protestant group is significantly higher than the Catholic group, and latter significantly higher than the Orthodox group, while the difference between the Buddhist group and the Hinduist group is not significant (Table 4).
    The linguistic groups are also calculated for their mean and SD (Table 2), and the results excluding the third world countries are given in Table 3. The results from t-tests show that the Germanic group is significantly higher than the Latino group, the latter higher than the Slavic group (Table 4). In contrast, there is no significant difference between the Austronesian group and the Sino-Tibetan group, between the Sino-Tibetan group and the Korean-Japanese group, between the Sino-Tibetan group and Indo-Iranian group, or between the Niger-Congo group and the Nilo-Saharan group. Nonetheless, the difference between the Austronesian group and the Indo-Iranian group is significant.
    As both the religious grouping and the linguistic grouping appear to be valid, a comparison could be made: the Germanic vs. Latino is of 99.9% certainty whereas the Protestantism vs. Catholicism is 99%. The Latino vs. Slavic is 99.9%. Catholicism vs. Orthodoxy is also 99.9%. In general, the linguistic system possesses a slight edge.
    The analysis confirms the hypothesis that the Hinduist and the Buddhist countries belong to the same group. The higher score of the Austronesian group is attributed to Malaysia and Brunei, which could be group with other Islamic countries. In Africa, the Niger-Congo group and the Nilo-Saharan group could be combined. Therefore, there are six major cultural groups: Germanic/Protestant, Latino/Catholic, Slavic/Orthodox, Asian-Pacific, Islamic (mainly Afro-Asiatic and Altaic), and tropical African (Niger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan). In addition, there a few minor groups including Israel, Koi-San, Papua New Guinea, Australian aboriginal, and native Americans.
    Regarding the size of the population, t-test by pairs has demonstrated a statistical significance, although it is secondary to the cultural factor (Table 4). The pairs are: New Zealand vs. Australia, Canada vs. USA, Ireland vs. UK, Austria vs. Germany, Switzerland vs. Germany, Luxemburg vs. France, Malta vs. Italy, Cyprus vs. Greece, Ukraine vs. Russia, Byelorussia vs. Russia, Brunei vs. Malaysia, Maldives vs. Pakistan, Mauritius vs. India, Sri Lanka vs. India.

    Data Source: Marks, N., Abdallah, S., Simms, A, Thompson, S. (2006). The Happy Planet Index. London: New Economics Foundation.
    (Note: the data refers to the original SWB score, not the table below).

    Table 1 SWB & Religions
    Religion mean SD
    Protestantism* 254.1 12.2
    Christianity* 231.1 32.4
    Judaism 223.0
    Catholicism* 221.0 30.6
    Christianity 219.6 34.5
    Buddhism 208.8 20.7
    all 201.3 38.3
    Hinduism 193.3 20.6
    Islamism 190.7 33.8
    Other 170.8 29.1
    Orthodox Christianity 156.9 35.7
    * Third world not included.

    Table 2 SWB & Linguistic Systems
    Linguistic System mean SD
    Celtic 253.0
    Germanic 240.9 16.4
    Austronesian 226.2 19.3
    Uralic 223.5 47.4
    Greek 220.0 14.1
    Italic 217.2 22.0
    Koi-San 217.0
    Indo-European 212.7 37.5
    Papuan 210.0
    Sino-Tibetan 210.0 24.3
    all 201.3 38.3
    Korean-Japanese 200.0 9.9
    Afro-Asiatic 196.0 36.9
    Altaic 194.0 36.3
    Indo-Iranian 188.4 24.2
    Austro-Asiatic 187.0
    Niger-Congo 167.4 23.4
    Slavic 159.8 28.6
    Albanian 153.0
    Nilo-Saharan 138.5 26.0
    Armenian 123.0

    Table 3 SWB & Linguistic Systems*
    Linguistic System mean SD
    Celtic 253.0
    Germanic 250.0 13.7
    Greek 220.0 14.1
    Italic 218.7 27.7
    Slavic 159.8 28.6
    Albanian 153.0
    Armenian 123.0
    * Third world not included.

    Table 4 t-Tests
    Comparison t n a <
    Germanic vs. Italic 4.72 44.6 0.001
    Italic vs. Slavic 6.80 22.8 0.001
    Austronesian vs. Sino-Tibetan 1.51 13.4 0.2
    Sino-Tibetan vs. Korean-Japanese0.90 4.7 0.5
    Sino-Tibetan vs. Indo-Iranian 1.72 12.8 0.2
    Austronesian vs. Indo-Iranian 3.38 11.3 0.01
    Niger-Congo vs. Nilo-Saharan 2.10 4.6 0.1
    Protestantism* vs. Catholicism* 3.44 14.9 0.01
    Catholicism* vs.Orthodox Christianity4.60 19.8 0.001
    Buddhism vs. Hinduism 1.18 2.9 0.4
    test by pairs 2.16 13 0.05

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  3. #2  
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    I still don't have the permit to upload the figures. Please go to the following site for them:

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