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Did the Decline in Social Capital Depress Americans’ Happiness?

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Author Info

  • Stefano Bartolini

    ()

  • Ennio Bilancini

    ()

  • Maurizio Pugno

    ()

Abstract

Most popular explanations cannot fully account for the declining trend of U.S. reported well-being during the last thirty years. We test the hypothesis that the relationship between social capital and happiness at the individual level accounts for what is left unexplained by previous research. We provide three main findings. First, several indicators of social capital are significantly correlated with reported happiness. Second, social capital indicators for the period 1975-2004 show a declining trend. Finally, the trend of happiness can be largely accounted for by the increasing trend of income, the increasing trend of reference income and the declining trend of social capital – in particular by the decline of its relational and non-instrumental components

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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 540.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:540

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

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References

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  1. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 4200, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," CESifo Working Paper Series 246, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. 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.
  5. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Gowdy, John M., 2007. "Environmental degradation and happiness," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 509-516, January.
  6. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Rafael Di Tella & Robert J. MacCulloch & Andrew J. Oswald, 2003. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 809-827, November.
  8. Alberto Alesina & Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1938, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. John Helliwell, 2005. "Well-Being, Social Capital and Public Policy: What's New?," NBER Working Papers 11807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520.
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  12. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
  13. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. 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," wp.comunite 0072, Department of Communication, University of Teramo.
  2. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini, 2011. "Social Participation and Hours Worked," Department of Economics University of Siena 620, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  3. Andrés Rodriguez-Pose & Viola von Berlepsch, 2012. "Social Capital and Individual Happiness in Europe," Bruges European Economic Research Papers 25, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.
  4. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2014. "Will Facebook save or destroy social capital? An empirical investigation into the effect of online interactions on trust and networks," EERI Research Paper Series EERI RP 2014/02, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
  5. Becchetti, Leonardo, 2009. "Oltre la crisi nella società del rischio: il ruolo dell' economia civile," AICCON Working Papers 62-2009, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
  6. Leonardo Becchetti & Elena Giachin Ricca & Alessandra Pelloni, 2009. "The 60es turnaround as a test on the causal relationship between sociability and happiness," Econometica Working Papers wp07, Econometica.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Andriani, Luca & Sabatini, Fabio, 2013. "Trust and prosocial behaviour in a process of state capacity building: the case of the Palestinian Territories," MPRA Paper 51003, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. KLEIN Carlo, 2011. "Social capital or social cohesion: what matters for subjective well-being (SWB)?," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series 2011-36, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  11. Jenny Assi & Mario Lucchini & Amedeo Spagnolo, 2012. "Mapping patterns of well-being and quality of life in extended Europe," International Review of Economics, Springer, vol. 59(4), pages 409-430, December.
  12. Drakopoulos, Stavros A. & Grimani, Katerina, 2013. "Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy and the Effect of Income on Happiness Levels," MPRA Paper 50987, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Carlo Klein, 2013. "Social Capital or Social Cohesion: What Matters For Subjective Well-Being?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 891-911, February.
  14. 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 2010-07, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  15. Christian Kroll & Jan Delhey, 2013. "A Happy Nation? Opportunities and Challenges of Using Subjective Indicators in Policymaking," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 114(1), pages 13-28, October.
  16. Björn Bünger, 2010. "The demand for relational goods: empirical evidence from the European Social Survey," International Review of Economics, Springer, vol. 57(2), pages 177-198, June.

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