Recent research argues skills are the key to socio-economic success for individuals and societies, ranging from labor market outcomes to non-economic well-being. Drawing on these arguments, this study re-examines the linkage between the skills level of societies and people’s life satisfaction (LS), using the joint European Values Study–World Values Survey data for 48,930 individuals in 32 countries. Multilevel regressions confirm the positive association between these two variables, as suggested by the literature. However, there exists one outlier where the average LS score is markedly low despite its high skills level: Japan. Examining the mechanism behind this overall cross-national trend and Japan’s peculiar position—Japan Paradox—is a promising agenda for future multidisciplinary research, as it may reflect not only the favorable link between skills and LS but the hidden socio-economic structure—Skills Trap—that prevents highly skilled people from enjoying better well-being even under seemingly well-developed social conditions.
Araki, S. (2022). Life satisfaction, skills diffusion, and the Japan Paradox: Toward multidisciplinary research on the skills trap. International Journal of Comparative Sociology. https://doi.org/10.1177/00207152221124812