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The Easterlin paradox and the decline of social capital: an integrated explanation

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  • Maurizio Pugno

    (University of Cassino)

Abstract

During the most recent decades people in industrialised countries have reported both a stagnant or even declining subjective well-being, as Easterlin (1974) originally observed, and deterioration in their social and family bonds, as Putnam (2000) has claimed. The paper proposes an integrated explanation of these two stylised facts by extending the analysis of the relative income explanation of the Easterlin paradox to social relationships as enjoyable ends of choice. Drawing on the evidence-based results of social psychology, the paper constructs a model whose premises are (i) that individuals produce social relationships by means of relational ability, (ii) that this ability is primarily shaped during infancy and remains largely unpredictable, and (iii) that commercial pressure on children to consume in competition with others may displace the enjoyment of social relationships. The model extends microfoundations to encompass new psychological dimensions. It is thus able to merge individuals’ idiosyncratic dynamics – which may deteriorate across generations – with improving economic contextual conditions, and to indicate some new priorities in policy options.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Universita' di Cassino, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche in its series Working Papers with number 2008-02.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:css:wpaper:2008-02

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Postal: Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche Via S. Angelo Loc. Folcara 03043 Cassino (FR) - Italy
Phone: +3907762994734
Fax: +3907762994834
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Web page: http://www.eco-giu.uniclam.it/Dipartimento/Info
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Keywords: happiness; well-being; relational goods; personal relationships; attachment; unconscious;

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References

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  1. Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2008. "Gross national happiness as an answer to the Easterlin Paradox?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 22-42, April.
  2. John Helliwell, 2005. "Well-Being, Social Capital and Public Policy: What's New?," NBER Working Papers 11807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Borghans, Lex & Duckworth, Angela Lee & Heckman, James J. & Weel, Bas ter, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," MERIT Working Papers 010, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  4. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance, 2006. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  6. Flouri, Eirini, 2000. "An integrated model of consumer materialism: Can economic socialization and maternal values predict materialistic attitudes in adolescents?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 707-724, June.
  7. Helliwell, John F., 2003. "How's life? Combining individual and national variables to explain subjective well-being," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 331-360, March.
  8. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2009. "The Economics and Psychology of Inequality and Human Development," Working Papers 200934, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  9. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  12. Justina A.V. Fischer & Benno Torgler, 2007. "Social Capital and Relative Income Concerns: Evidence from 26 Countries," CREMA Working Paper Series 2007-05, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  13. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," CESifo Working Paper Series 2394, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
  15. Antoci, Angelo & Sacco, Pier Luigi & Vanin, Paolo, 2007. "Social capital accumulation and the evolution of social participation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 128-143, February.
  16. Giovanni Andrea Cornia, 1990. "Child Poverty and Deprivation in Industrialized Countries: Recent trends and policy options," Innocenti Occasional Papers, Economic Policy Series iopeps90/38, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
  17. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Hypertension and Happiness across Nations," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 792, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  18. Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert J. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 615, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  19. Delhey, Jan & Newton, Kenneth, 2002. "Who trusts? The origins of social trust in seven nations," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Social Structure and Social Reporting FS III 02-402, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Liliana Fernandes & Américo Mendes & Aurora A.C. Teixeira, 2012. "Assessing child well-being through a new multidimensional child-based weighting scheme index: an empirical estimation for Portugal," FEP Working Papers 452, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
  2. Lotito, Gianna & Migheli, Matteo & Ortona, Guido, 2011. "An experimental inquiry into the nature of relational goods," POLIS Working Papers 160, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  3. Jacopo Baggio & Elissaios Papyrakis, 2014. "Agent-Based Simulations of Subjective Well-Being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 623-635, January.
  4. Marta Portela & Isabel Neira & Maria del Salinas-Jiménez, 2013. "Social Capital and Subjective Wellbeing in Europe: A New Approach on Social Capital," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 493-511, November.
  5. Johannes Vatter, 2012. "Well-Being in Germany: GDP and Unemployment Still Matter," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 196, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
  6. Johannes Vatter, 2012. "Well-Being in Germany: What Explains the Regional Variation?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 435, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  7. Vatter, Johannes, 2012. "Well-being in Germany: What explains the regional variation?," FZG Discussion Papers 50, Research Center for Generational Contracts (FZG), University of Freiburg.
  8. Francesco Ferrante, 2014. "Great expectations The unintended consequences of educational choices," Working Papers 67, AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium.

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