The impact of culture and leisure on the happiness of Spanish people

Nela Filimon, Department of Economics, University of Girona

No unanimous definition of happiness exists, but the empirical evidence points to it depending on many factors, prominently including participation in cultural and leisure activities. The article contains a reflection on the individual and social dimensions of happiness and confirms the importance of connections with others.
Key points
  • 1
       Recent studies have shown that the distribution of the perception of happiness in Spain is similar to that of other developed countries (on a scale of 0-10, the Spanish average is 7.3).
  • 2
       Culture and leisure contribute to our happiness and we prefer to share many of these experiences with other people.
  • 3
       The empirical evidence shows that the simple presence of others – being surrounded by people at a concert or a museum – has a positive effect and, therefore, makes up happier.
  • 4
       The most recent empirical studies have confirmed the so-called “Easterlin paradox”, according to which (at least from a certain threshold) more income or more economic resources do not mean greater happiness.
Average happiness score and participation in cultural and leisure activities
Average happiness score and participation in cultural and leisure activities

The graph shows the impact of cultural and leisure activities on the happiness scale (from 0 to 10), as well as the percentage of Spaniards who participate in each activity. In Spain, all cultural and leisure activities obtain high average scores on the happiness scale, varying between 7.29 and 7.5.

What could be done to encourage participation in cultural and leisure activities?
  • Empirical evidence on consumption and happiness shows the importance of public support for the arts as a source of happiness and the promotion of policies aimed at facilitating access to culture.
  • Actions aimed, for example, at better reconciling working timetables in order to undertake more shared cultural activities can have positive effects on happiness.
  • In this sense, many cities, above all European ones, have a long tradition of support for art, acknowledging the recreational aspect of all culture, which must not be overlooked in public policies that are to be implemented in relation with happiness.

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Nela Filimon , Department of Economics, University of Girona

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