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Social Capital and Subjective Well-Being trends: Evidence from 11 European countries

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  • Francesco Sarracino

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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. This new stream of research has been inaugurated by Putnam’s pioneering studies about social capital trends in the United States. Recently, a considerable work by Stevenson andWolfers (2008) put a new emphasis on this topic contending Easterlin’s assessment. Present work is aimed at analyzing the relationship between changes in social capital and subjective well-being in Europe considering 11 different countries. In particular, we would like to answer questions such as: 1) is social capital in Europe declining? Is such erosion a general trend of modern societies or is it a characteristic feature of only some of them? 2) social capital trend can help to explain subjective well-being trend? In so doing, our research considers three different set of proxies of social capital controlling for time and socio-demographic aspects in eleven different European countries using WVS data between 1980 and 2000.Our results are encouraging, showing evidence of a probable relationship between social capital and happiness. Furthermore, our results show that during last twenty years European citizens have persistently lost confidence in the judicial system, in the church, in armed forces and the police. Finally, considering single countries, we discover that United Kingdom is the only European country with a clear and negative pattern for social capital: quite every proxy of social capital in UK declined over the considered period

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 558.

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Date of creation: Mar 2009
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Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:558

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  1. Knack, Stephen, 2003. " Groups, Growth and Trust: Cross-Country Evidence on the Olson and Putnam Hypotheses," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 117(3-4), pages 341-55, December.
  2. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini & Maurizio Pugno, 2008. "Did the Decline in Social Capital Depress Americans’ Happiness?," Department of Economics University of Siena 540, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  3. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini, 2007. "The Social Context of the Labor Supply," Department of Economics University of Siena 511, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  4. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini & Maurizio Pugno, 2007. "Did the Decline in Social Capital Decrease American Happiness? A Relational Explanation of the Happiness Paradox," Department of Economics University of Siena 513, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  5. Bartolini, Stefano & Bonatti, Luigi, 2002. "Environmental and social degradation as the engine of economic growth," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 1-16, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini, 2010. "If not only GDP, what else? Using relational goods to predict the trends of subjective well-being," International Review of Economics, Springer, vol. 57(2), pages 199-213, June.

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