OECD Development Centre Working Papers

The OECD Development Centre links OECD members with developing and emerging economies and fosters debate and discussion to seek creative policy solutions to emerging global issues and development challenges. This series of working papers is intended to disseminate the OECD Development Centre’s research findings rapidly among specialists in the field concerned. These papers are generally available in the original English or French, with a summary in the other language.

English, French

Can investments in social protection contribute to subjective well-being?

A cross-country analysis

Subjective well-being has in recent years been recognised as a goal of development that captures non-monetary or subjective dimensions of well-being. The body of evidence on the individual and societal determinants of subjective well-being is growing, but the literature remains in its infancy as to the role of social protection despite important policy implications. The objective of this paper is to explore the relationship between investments in social protection (as a proxy for the level of social protection services received by the population) and individuals’ evaluative and experienced well-being. This paper thus provides new evidence on the relationship between social protection investments and subjective well-being based on a worldwide sample including 38 countries and covering low-, middle- and high-income countries. Furthermore, we study potential channels explaining this relationship by considering the effect on potential beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries as well as distributional effects.


Keywords: social inclusion, social protection, government spending, subjective well-being
JEL: H53: Public Economics / National Government Expenditures and Related Policies / Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs; I38: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty: Government Policy; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs; I30: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty: General
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