More Choice for Better Choosers: Political Freedom, Autonomy, and Happiness

Sebastiano Bavetta, Dario Maimone Ansaldo Patti, Peter Miller, Pietro Navarra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


A substantial literature finds that freedom in the sense of an expanded opportunity set is positively related to happiness. A contrasting literature, however, finds that an excess of choice can have socially undesirable outcomes. We test the effect of two types of freedom—autonomy and political—on happiness using five waves of World Values Survey data (1981–2008). We find evidence supporting the claim that equipping people with the tools to direct the course of their lives (i.e. increasing autonomy freedom) incentivizes the desire to investigate alternatives (e.g. political parties) before making a decision. The effect of freedoms on happiness is diminished in contexts where individuals have less experience with evaluating alternatives, such as in authoritarian or transitional countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-338
Number of pages23
JournalPolitical Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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