The Journal of Politics

ARTICLES

Government Performance and Life Satisfaction in Contemporary Britain

Paul Whiteleya1, Harold D. Clarkea2, David Sandersa3 and Marianne C. Stewarta4

a1 University of Essex

a2 University of Texas at Dallas, University of Essex

a3 University of Essex

a4 University of Texas at Dallas

Abstract

This paper investigates relationships between public policy outcomes and life satisfaction in contemporary Britain. Monthly national surveys gathered between April 2004 and December 2008 are used to analyze the impact of policy delivery both at the micro and macro levels, the former relating to citizens’ personal experiences, and the latter to cognitive evaluations of and affective reactions to the effectiveness of policies across the country as a whole. The impact of salient political events and changes in economic context involving the onset of a major financial crisis also are considered. Analyses reveal that policy outcomes, especially microlevel ones, significantly influence life satisfaction. The effects of both micro- and macrolevel outcomes involve both affective reactions to policy delivery and cognitive judgments about government performance. Controlling for these and other factors, the broader economic context in which policy judgments are made also influences life satisfaction.

(Received August 04 2009)

(Accepted October 26 2009)

Footnotes

Paul F. Whiteley is Professor of Government at the University of Essex, Colchester, Essex, CO4 3SQ, United Kingdom

Harold D. Clarke, Ashbel Smith Professor of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson TX, 75083.

David Sanders is Professor of Government at the University of Essex, Colchester, Essex, CO4 3SQ, United Kingdom

Marianne Stewart, Professor of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson TX, 75083.

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