Benjamin Radcliff

Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame
Chapter Member: Indiana SSN
Areas of Expertise:

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About Benjamin

Radcliff’s principal focus of research is the political, economic, and social determinants of human well-being across the United States and across the industrial democracies more generally. His work documents the relationships between public policies (and partisan control of government, and the quality of human life). He has also done work in conventional electoral politics, democratic theory, and labor studies. While his work is aggressively non-partisan, Radcliff has worked with labor unions (such as the AFL-CIO, among others) in regards to both the research on well-being and on electoral participation.


Evidence That Higher Minimum Wages Improve Economic Wellbeing

  • Michael A. Krassa

What Kinds of Public Policies Promote Human Happiness?

  • Patrick Flavin

In the News

"Why Tax Cuts Make Us Less Happy," Benjamin Radcliff (with Michael A. Krassa), The Conversation, November 1, 2017.
"Our Electoral System is Bad for Happiness," Benjamin Radcliff (with Patrick Flavin), Pyschology Today, September 29, 2016.
"Direct Democracy May be Key to a Happier American Democracy," Benjamin Radcliff (with Michael A. Krassa), The Conversation, January 25, 2016.
"Profs: Small Government is Bad for Your Pursuit of Happiness," Benjamin Radcliff (with Michael A. Krassa), The Conversation, September 7, 2015.
"Super-Size McDonald's Raise Benefits Us All," Benjamin Radcliff (with Michael A. Krassa), USA Today, April 15, 2015.
Benjamin Radcliff quoted on the effects of unions on member and nonmember voter turnout by Sean McElwee, "One Big Reason for Voter Turnout Decline and Income Inequality: Smaller Unions" American Prospect, January 30, 2015.
"What are We Really Buying with a Minimum Wage Hike?," Benjamin Radcliff (with Michael Krassa), Talking Points Memo Café, October 21, 2014.
Guest to discuss countries that provide ample government benefits have happier citizens on WBUR’s “Here and Now”, Benjamin Radcliff, January 2, 2014.
"Do Bigger Governments Lead to Happier People?," Benjamin Radcliff, Interview with Dylan Matthews, The Washington Post, December 23, 2013.
"Western Nations with Social Safety Net Happier," Benjamin Radcliff, CNN Opinion, September 25, 2013.


"Assessing the Impact of the Size and Scope of Government on Human Well-Being" (with Patrick Flavin and Alexander C. Pacek). Social Forces 92, no. 4 (2014): 1241-1258.
Provides empirical and theoretical evidence in support of the contention that social democratic policies are more consonant with human well-being that are policies traditionally labeled conservative. These findings apply to both higher- and lower-income citizens.
The Political Economy of Human Happiness (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
Provides an introduction to the scientific study of human happiness (“happiness economics”), with emphasis on how political outcomes (what policies governments pursue, what parties win elections) affect the degree to which people lead satisfying and rewarding lives. More importantly, it argues, using data both across countries and across the American States, that “big government,” an expansive welfare state, strong labor unions, and pro-worker labor market regulations best contribute to people leading lives that they themselves find to be fulfilling.
"Organized Labor, Democracy, and Life Satisfaction: A Cross-National Analysis" (with Lauren Keane and Alexander C. Pacek). Labor Studies Journal 37, no. 3 (2012): 253-327.
Documents the strong connections between the strength of organized labor and the quality of human life (though the relationship is mediated by the existence of strong democratic institutions, as in the U.S. and Western Europe).
"The Politics of Happiness: On the Political Determinants of Quality of Life in the American States" (with Ángel Álvarez-Díaz and Lucas González). The Journal of Politics 72, no. 3 (2010): 894-905.
Demonstrates that quality of life is higher in those American States with more generous welfare programs, more economic regulation, more liberal state governments, and a history of recent rule by the Democratic Party.
"Public Policies and Suicide Rates in the American States" (with Pat Flavin). Social Indictors Research 90, no. 2 (2009): 195-209.
Demonstrates that that suicide rates are lower in those states with the most liberal public policies.