A statistical meta-analysis of the wellbeing literature


  • Robert J Eger Naval Postgraduate School
  • Jan H. Maridal Baylor University


philosophy, public policy, eudaimonia, life satisfaction


This study employs an empirical meta-analysis to examine the livability factors of wellbeing and assess each precursor’s relative significance. The effect size results of individual studies of existing academic work are pooled by the use of a variety of statistical techniques to determine a meta-effect that yields statistically more significant conclusions and is a more powerful measure in that it has the ability to identify results closer to the true outcomes. The meta-analysis in this paper covers 164 studies and 560 observations published prior to September 2013. After articulating definitions of the central concepts and tenets of the scholarly research on wellbeing, the analysis continues with a literature review identifying recurring factors of wellbeing and the associated correlation. To address the variation in the type of analysis that underlies each study, all studies are converted to an effect size using Fischer’s z and then analyzed under the DerSimonian-Laird random-effects model. The results largely confirm the findings in the literature but also reveal some surprises and suggest avenues for future research. The meta-analysis finds empirical support for the dimensions of living standard, health, freedom, personal and community relationships, peace, and security as significant livability factors of wellbeing.


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Author Biographies

Robert J Eger, Naval Postgraduate School

Associate Professor, Graduate School of Business and Public Policy

Jan H. Maridal, Baylor University

Research Professor, Hankammer School of Business,
John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise