JICA Research Institute

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Working Papers

No.79 Interdependent Happiness: Cultural Happiness under the East Asian Cultural Mandate

In order to examine how socio-economic status might undermine cultural happiness shared among East Asian cultural members, the concept of interdependent happiness - harmony with others, quiescence, and ordinariness - was measured using representative adults from Thailand living in both rural and urban areas. This study draws on the previous studies which show culturally shared understandings of the self as being relational and contextual among East Asians. I argue here that among Thai people, who live by traditional Buddhist practices and are experiencing rapid economic development, those with a high socio-economic status - who earn more money, are educated for a longer period of time, and hold administrative positions - would prove to have lowered interdependent happiness. The results of the study support this claim and while objective socio-economic status showed negative correlation with the interdependent happiness, it showed a negligible correlation with general happiness. These results provide the basis for the argument that within East Asian countries increased objective socio-economic status might undermine East Asian cultural well-being.

Keywords: interdependent happiness, cultural well-being, socio-economic status, Thailand culture

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