Dr. Patrick Flavin of Baylor University and colleagues used data from the World Values Survey's 2005 study that included 10,405 people from 15 industrialized countries -- Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
All were asked: "All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?"
On a scale of 1 to 10 -- with 10 the highest level of satisfaction -- the average rating for all respondents was 7.39, but U.S. respondents reported an average of 7.26. The United States has one of the lowest levels of state intervention.
The findings were consistent regardless income, political views, health, education, marital status, gross domestic product and unemployment rate.
"In many cases, less government intervention can allow for a more efficient economy, but greater economic efficiency doesn't necessarily translate into greater contentment with one's life," Flavin said in a statement. "If you get sick and can't work or lose your job and there are few social protections in place, you're more likely to be anxious and less satisfied."
The study is published in the spring issue of the journal Politics & Policy.