Is Brazil the Land of Happiness? A Comparative Study Using a Sample with Economics Students from UFPE and Purdue


  • Tiago V. de V. Cavalcanti Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Juliana Ferraz Guimarães Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge, UK
  • José Ricardo Nogueira Department of Economics Universidade Federal de Pernambuco



Subjective Well-Being, Relative Income Differences, Brazil, United States


In this article we study the level of happiness using a sample of American and Brazilian college students. We applied about 187 questionnaires among economics students at Purdue University and also at Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE). We found that American college students have a higher probability of self-reporting as happier than Brazilian students. We also found interesting differences: (i) women are happier than men at Purdue, but men are happier than women at UFPE; (ii) family background does not seem to have a clear impact on happiness among Purdue students, but it certainly has a direct impact on happiness among UFPE students; (iii) “extra money” is an important factor for happiness in the two groups, but it is definitely more important for male students at UFPE; (iv) leisure is the key factor for happiness among Purdue students; and (v) policy towards improvements in public safety would have a stronger effect on happiness among economics UFPE students than among those who attend the Purdue University