This paper takes the influential “direct democracy makes people happy”-research as a starting point and asks whether direct democracy impacts individual satisfaction. Unlike former studies we distinguish two aspects of individual satisfaction, namely satisfaction with life (“happiness”) and with how democracy works. Based on multilevel analysis of the 26 Swiss cantons we show that the theoretical assumption on which the happiness hypothesis is based has to be questioned, as there is very little evidence for a robust relationship between satisfaction with democracy and life satisfaction. Furthermore, we do not find a substantive positive effect of direct democracy on happiness. However, with respect to satisfaction with democracy, our analysis shows some evidence for a procedural effect of direct democracy, i.e. positive effects related to using direct democratic rights, rather than these rights per se.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: May 10, 2011
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