Can Money Buy Happiness? Income and Multidimensional Life Satisfaction in Brunei Darussalam


This paper examines the nexus of income and multidimensional life satisfaction (LS) in the oil- and gas-rich Belait district of Brunei Darussalam. Using a random sample of 1,000 Belait residents and principal component factor analysis to sort 11 domains-of-life satisfaction into three uncorrelated LS spheres-LS with materialist life (job, stress, and income); LS with post-materialist life (family, spirituality, neighbors, and community activities); and LS with public life (health, neighborhood facility, feeling safe at home, and quality of living environment) - we discover the following. First, positive income effects on LS with materialist life sphere are evidenced from lower-middle- to high-income bands. Second, a positive income effect on LS with post-materialist life sphere is only found in the high-income band. Income does not relate to LS with public life sphere. These findings are robust to using each domains-of-life satisfaction and treating scores on domain satisfaction as ordinal and cardinal measures.

Asian Development Review