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Money, sociability and happiness : are developed countries doomed to social erosion and unhappiness?

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  • SARRACINO Francesco

Abstract

Discovering whether social capital endowments in modern societies have been subjected or not to a process of gradual erosion is one of the most debated topics in recent economic literature. Inaugurated by Putnam?s pioneering studies, the debate on social capital trends has been recently revived by Stevenson and Wolfers (2008) contending Easterlin?s assessment. Present work is aimed at finding evidence for the relationship between changes in social capital and subjective well-being in eight European countries and in Japan between 1980 and 2005. In particular, I would like to answer questions such as: 1) is social capital in western Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan declining? Is such erosion a general trend of modern and richer societies or is it a characteristic feature of the American one? 2) can social capital trend help explain subjective well-being trend? In so doing, present research considers three different set of proxies of social capital controlling for time and socio-demographic aspects using WVS-EVS data between 1980 and 2005. My results are encouraging, showing evidence of positive correlation between several proxies of social capital and both happiness and life satisfaction. Furthermore, my results show that during last twenty-five years people in some of the most modern and developed countries have persistently lost confidence in the judicial system, religious institutions, parliament and civil service.

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Paper provided by CEPS/INSTEAD in its series CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series with number 2011-02.

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Length: 68 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:irs:cepswp:2011-02

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Keywords: subjective well-being; social capital; relational goods; Easterlin paradox; time-series; economic development; EVS; WVS;

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References

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  1. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 6944, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Di Tella, Rafael & Alesina, Alberto & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," Scholarly Articles 4553007, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  10. BARTOLINI Stefano & BILANCINI Ennio & SARRACINO Francesco, 2010. "Predicting the Trend of Well-Being in Germany: How Much Do Comparisons, Adaptation and Sociability Matter?," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series, CEPS/INSTEAD 2010-07, CEPS/INSTEAD.
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  32. Charles Kenny, 2005. "Does Development Make You Happy? Subjective Wellbeing And Economic Growth In Developing Countries," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 73(2), pages 199-219, 09.
  33. Sarracino, Francesco, 2010. "Social capital and subjective well-being trends: Comparing 11 western European countries," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 482-517, August.
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Cited by:
  1. SARRACINO Francesco, 2011. "Richer in money, poorer in relationship and unhappy? Time series comparisons of social capital and well-being in Luxembourg," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series, CEPS/INSTEAD 2011-01, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  2. BARTOLINI Stefano & MIKUCKA Malgorzata & SARRACINO Francesco, 2012. "Money, Trust and Happiness in Transition Countries: Evidence from Time Series," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series, CEPS/INSTEAD 2012-04, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  3. Yamamura, Eiji, 2014. "Identity, Nostalgia and Happiness among Migrants: The Case of the Kōshien High School Baseball Tournament in Japan," MPRA Paper 53776, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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