Although Bangladesh is known as one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world, qualitative research and anecdotal evidence suggests its people report levels of happiness that are higher than those found in many other countries. This includes ‘developed’ countries where people have larger per capita incomes and can access a wider range of public services and goods. The paper explores this apparent paradox by analysing primary quantitative and qualitative data, and engaging with existing literature on happiness and objective wellbeing in Bangladesh. The data and analysis presented makes an original and timely contribution to the limited knowledge we have of the construction and experience of happiness and life satisfaction in contexts of extreme and persistent economic poverty. It identifies and offers insights into the ‘personal’ as well as social or ‘relational’ values and goals that people in Bangladesh consider important to achieve happiness in life. It also reflects on how different people experience these values and goals in very different ways. This, we argue, leads to a better understanding of the influence of the social and cultural context in the construction of people’s happiness. In the conclusion, we reflect on the policy implications of our findings.
Journal of Happiness Studies – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 27, 2007
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