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How Much is Social Capital Worth?

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  • John F. Helliwell
  • Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh

Abstract

This paper uses data from global and Canadian surveys data to estimate the powerful linkages between social connections, their related social identities, and subjective well-being. Our explanatory variables include several measures of the extent and frequency of use of social networks, combined with a number of measures of general and domain-specific trust, which are often used to gauge effective social capital. Using these measures we find that trust and social network size and use are all strong predictors of subjective well-being. We demonstrate the size and impact of these effects by calculating compensating differentials, measured as the changes in household income that would produce equivalent levels of life satisfaction. We introduce three key measures of social identity – the respondents’ sense of belonging to their communities, province and country – and find that they add significantly to the explanation of life satisfaction among Canadian respondents, and provide important mediating channels whereby social capital is linked to subjective well-being.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16025.

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Date of creation: May 2010
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Publication status: published as How Much Is Social Capital Worth? John F. Helliwell and Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh In J. Jetten, C. Haslam and S.A. Haslam, eds., The Social Cure, London: Psychology Press, pp. 55-71. A version is available as NBER working paper 16025 and appendix.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16025

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  1. Dave Roberts on Great Spaces and Political Freedom
    by Mike in Rortybomb on 2011-05-26 19:08:11
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Cited by:
  1. John F. Helliwell, 2012. "Understanding and Improving the Social Context of Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 18486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Viola Berlepsch, 2014. "Social Capital and Individual Happiness in Europe," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 357-386, April.
  3. Owsiński, Jan W. & Pielak, Aneta M. & Sęp, Krzysztof, 2013. "Smartness, culture and local authority ICT awareness: an empirical enquiry for a province in Poland," Studies in Agricultural Economics, Research Institute for Agricultural Economics, vol. 115(2), June.

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