Feasible future global scenarios for human life evaluations

Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Eric Galbraith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

10 Citations (Scopus)


© 2019, The Author(s). Subjective well-being surveys show large and consistent variation among countries, much of which can be predicted from a small number of social and economic proxy variables. But the degree to which these life evaluations might feasibly change over coming decades, at the global scale, has not previously been estimated. Here, we use observed historical trends in the proxy variables to constrain feasible future projections of self-reported life evaluations to the year 2050. We find that projected effects of macroeconomic variables tend to lead to modest improvements of global average life evaluations. In contrast, scenarios based on non-material variables project future global average life evaluations covering a much wider range, lying anywhere from the top 15% to the bottom 25% of present-day countries. These results highlight the critical role of non-material factors such as social supports, freedoms, and fairness in determining the future of human well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Article number161
Pages (from-to)161
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2019


  • Forecasting
  • Global Health/trends
  • Humans
  • Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development
  • Quality of Life
  • Sociological Factors


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