Life satisfaction in Malawi and the importance of relative consumption, polygamy and religion



Happiness equations for Malawi are estimated using a new household survey. It is apparent that absolute consumption level is strongly associated with satisfaction. Both objective and subjective relative consumption in the neighbourhood is positively associated with satisfaction. Male satisfaction is associated strongly with relative consumption but female satisfaction is not. Separated or widowed females are less happy than males indicating a vulnerability that acts as a disincentive to leave husbands during marital problems. Polygamous females in traditional religions are less satisfied than other females whilst there is some evidence that male Muslims in polygamous relationships are more satisfied. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.