Using data from the Gallup World Poll, we examined whether progressive taxation is associated with increased levels of subjective well-being. Consistent with Rawls’s theory of justice, our results showed that progressive taxation was positively associated with the subjective well-being of nations. However, the overall tax rate and government spending were not associated with the subjective well-being of nations. Furthermore, controlling for the wealth of nations and income inequality, we found that respondents living in a nation with more-progressive taxation evaluated their lives as closer to the best possible life and reported having more positive and less negative daily experiences than did respondents living in a nation with less-progressive taxation. Finally, we found that the association between more-progressive taxation and higher levels of subjective well-being was mediated by citizens’ satisfaction with public goods, such as education and public transportation.
Oishi, S., Schimmack, U., & Diener, E. (2012). Progressive taxation and the subjective well-being of nations. Psychological science, 23(1), 86-92.