Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Jeffery T. Bookwalter

Commitee Members

Doulgas R. Dalenberg, Jennifer M. Thomsen


subjective well-being, autoregression, panel data, south africa


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Econometrics | Growth and Development


Poverty is not a material problem; in fact, it is a much greater problem, the problem of social, natural, and economic disconnect from the institutions of stability, wealth, justice, and well-being. When considering human flourishing, we must look beyond the material at “lives that are not necessarily morally good, but good for us” (Tiberius, 2006, p. 493). In the vein of Sen’s Capabilities Theory, this paper uses subjective well-being as a comprehensive measure of an individual’s life and circumstances examines how civil institutions impact an individual’s non-monetary welfare function. This paper conducts a series of regression models in an attempt to explore and identify the relative impact of the determinants of subjective well-being in the context of individual experience and historical dependency. Analyzing a panel survey in South Africa, this paper compares a fixed effects and autoregressive model to the baseline ordinary least squares (OLS) model in order to determine how civil institutions and path dependency play a role in determining subjective well-being. I find that the autoregressive model does not substantially improve parameter estimates, most likely due to the short structure of the panel. The autoregressive model does confirm the impact of religious involvement and family units, both positively significant in all models. The strength of religious importance directly correlates to increased life satisfaction, and individuals in family units (married or cohabitating) show increased levels of life satisfaction, although the anticipated effect of formal marriage does not show in the data. This analysis lays a foundation for understanding opportunities for governmental intervention with the purpose of maximizing subjective well-being.



© Copyright 2017 Samuel Fleming