a1 School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, Bristol, BS8 1SS
a2 Personal Finance Research Centre, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, Bristol, BS8 1SS email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Social scientists in the comparative policy tradition have long argued that welfare systems in modern capitalist societies can be broken down into ideal types. The idea of different worlds of welfare capitalism has an enduring appeal and growing practical policy relevance as governments seek to enhance population wellbeing. In this paper, we explore the worlds of welfare theory from the perspective of happiness. Drawing on data from the World Values Survey, we examine how welfare regimes may contribute to wellbeing and we consider the significance of our findings for the development of social policy. By using multilevel models, it is possible to separate out effects due to observed and unobserved, as well as both individual-level and country-level, welfare state characteristics and we can make inferences to the distribution of social wellbeing across welfare typologies. We find that respondents living in liberal and conservative countries experience at least twice the odds of unhappiness of those living in social democracies, after controlling for individual- and country-level explanatory variables. The observed differences between the worlds of welfare were found to be highly statistically significant.