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A new study argues that, simply, economic freedom leads to a happier populace.

The Frasier Institute, a Toronto-based think tank, recently released “Economic Freedom, Individual Perceptions of Life Control, and Life Satisfaction,” a study that analyzes how economic freedom influences an individual’s life.

The study notes,“The well-being associated with economic freedom is valued by people in its own right, above and beyond the material wealth that it produces for society.” When people perceive that they control their life, their satisfaction with life is higher.

From the press release:
The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of private property. Economic freedom is measured in five different areas: (1) size of government, (2) legal structure and security of property rights, (3) access to sound money, (4) freedom to trade internationally, and (5) regulation of credit, labour, and business. The analysis shows that living in an economically free country plays a greater role in one’s life satisfaction than does income, age, employment or even a country’s political system.

Parsing out studies on life satisfaction and happiness can get sticky. Sometimes, “happiness” should be understood as “contentment.”

However, as Reason points out, the 10 countries with the highest and the lowest values for life satisfaction and life control point to a trend of economic and social liberalism.