What kind of national pride makes you happier?

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2011, 16:06 PM IST

Washington: Taking pride in your country makes you happier, but what you are proud of has a big effect on happiness too, says a new study.

Matthew Wright, a political scientist at American University, and Tim Reeskens, a sociologist from Catholic University in Belgium conducted a study on the subject and published their findings.

“It’s fine to say pride in your country makes you happy… But what kind of pride are we talking about? That turns out to make a lot of difference,” Wright said.

Reeskens and Wright divided national pride into two parts – ethnic and civic.

‘Ethnic’ nationalism sees ancestry—typically expressed in racial or religious terms—as the key social boundary defining the national ‘we’.

‘Civic’ nationalism is more inclusive, requiring only respect for a country’s institutions and laws for belonging. Unlike ethnic nationalism, that view is open to minorities or immigrants, at least in principle.

The authors analyzed the responses to four key questions by 40,677 individuals from 31 countries, drawn from the 2008 wave of the cross-national European Values Study.

One question assessed ‘subjective well being’ indicated by general satisfaction with life, while the other measured national pride.

The other two neatly indicated ethnic and civic national boundaries—asking respondents to rate the importance of respect for laws and institutions, and of ancestry, to being a true . . . fill in the blank . . . German, Swede, Spaniard.

Wright and Reeskens found that the civic nationalists were on the whole happier and even the proudest ethnic nationalists’ well-being barely surpassed that of people with the lowest level of civic pride.

IANS