You know why that country’s citizens are miserable? Too many colors in their flag.

This exploratory paper estimates the effects on well-being of two very important institutional symbols of 59 countries in 2007: national flags and constitutions. The results indicate that well-being responds positively to investment in material things as well as the existence of flags. However, national well-being is highly inelastic with respect to measures of constitutions and national flag colors. In fact, nations with fewer flag colors, infrequent constitutional changes, and small constitutions tend to have higher well-being than others. I resist comment on what this all means, but it would seem GDP per capita, despite its obvious limitations, is still the most important influence on national well-being.

Source: “Flags, Constitutions, and the well-being of nations” from REEPS WORKING PAPER No. 200811

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