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Did the Decline in Social Capital Decrease American Happiness? A Relational Explanation of the Happiness Paradox

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  • Stefano Bartolini

    ()

  • Ennio Bilancini

    ()

  • Maurizio Pugno

    ()

Abstract

Most popular explanations of the happiness paradox cannot fully account for the lack of growth in U.S. reported well-being during the last thirty years (Blanchflower and Oswald (2004)). In this paper we test an alternative hypothesis, namely that the decline in U.S. social capital is responsible for what is left unexplained by previous research. We provide three main findings. First, we show that the inclusion of social capital does improve the account of reported happiness. Second, we provide evidence of a decline in social capital indicators for the period 1975-2004, confirming Putnam's claim (Putnam (2000)). Finally, we show that failed growth of happiness is largely due to the decline of social capital and, in particular, to the decline of its relational and intrinsically motivated component.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 513.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:513

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Keywords: happiness; social capital; economic growth; relational goods; instrinsic motivations;

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Cited by:
  1. Richard Layard & Guy Mayraz & Stephen Nickell, 2009. "Does Relative Income Matter?: Are the Critics Right?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 210, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  2. Antoci, Angelo & Sabatini, Fabio & Sodini, Mauro, 2011. "Bowling alone but tweeting together: the evolution of human interaction in the social networking era," MPRA Paper 34232, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Antoci, Angelo & Sabatini, Fabio & Sodini, Mauro, 2011. "See you on Facebook! A framework for analyzing the role of computer-mediated interaction in the evolution of social capital," MPRA Paper 29998, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Leonardo Becchetti & Alessandra Pelloni, 2010. "What are we learning from the life satisfaction literature?," Econometica Working Papers wp20, Econometica.
  5. Francesco Sarracino, 2009. "Social Capital and Subjective Well-Being trends: Evidence from 11 European countries," Department of Economics University of Siena 558, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  6. 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.

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