In an earlier post about inner freedom (here) I mentioned that I would look further at how closely inner freedom is correlated with life satisfaction.
One of the questions that people have been asked in the world values survey is “how much freedom of choice and control you feel you have over the way your life turns out”. They are asked to indicated this on a scale where 1 means “none at all” and 10 means “a great deal”.
In the following scatter diagram each point shows for an individual country the proportion of the population who feel they have a great deal of this inner freedom and the proportion of the population who feel satisfied with life as a whole. (Data are for 72 countries for the year 2000 and have been sourced from “Human Beliefs and Values” by Ronald Inglehart et al.)
The chart shows that there is correlation at a country level between life satisfaction and inner freedom. Countries in which a high proportion of the population feel satisfied with life as a whole tend to be the same as those in which a high proportion of the population feel a great deal of inner freedom. The correlation is obviously far from perfect, however. The percentages feeling a great deal of inner freedom in Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands, for example, were lower than would be expected on the basis of percentages feeling satisfied with life. On the other hand, the percentages feeling a great deal of inner freedom in Venezuela and Taiwan, for example, were higher than would be expected on the basis of percentages feeling satisfied with life.
I have conducted a regression analysis in order to see whether the difference between inner freedom and life satisfaction is related to various values or beliefs. The dependent variable was the percentage who feel a great deal of inner freedom and the explanatory variables were: the percentage who feel satisfied with life; the percentage who say competition is good (it stimulates people to work hard and develop new ideas); the percentage who place high importance on leisure; the percentage who say it would be good if less importance is placed on money; and the percentage who say that people should take more responsibility to provide for themselves.
Apart from life satisfaction the only variable for which the estimated coefficient was significantly different from zero was the competition variable. That result seems to me to make sense. If a high proportion of a population feel that they have a great deal of choice and control over the way their lives turn out then it stands to reason that they are more likely to feel that competition is a good thing.