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Well-Being, Social Capital and Public Policy: What's New?

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  • John F. Helliwell

Abstract

This article summarises recent empirical research on the determinants of subjective well-being. Results from national and international samples suggest that measures of social capital, including especially the corollary measures of specific and general trust, have substantial effects on well-being beyond those flowing through economic channels. Cross-national samples (supported by parallel analysis of suicide data) show large well-being effects from the quality of government. Finally, using well-being data to estimate the income-equivalents non-financial aspects of the workplace produces numbers so large as to suggest the existence of unexploited opportunities to improve both employee satisfaction and enterprise efficiency. Copyright 2006 Royal Economic Society.

Suggested Citation

  • John F. Helliwell, 2006. "Well-Being, Social Capital and Public Policy: What's New?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages 34-45, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:116:y:2006:i:510:p:c34-c45
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    1. Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1999. "Governance matters," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2196, The World Bank.
    2. Daniel Kaufmann & Aart Kraay & Massimo Mastruzzi, 2003. "Governance Matters III: Governance Indicators for 1996-2002," Development and Comp Systems 0308001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Frey, Bruno S & Stutzer, Alois, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 918-938, October.
    4. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2008. "Lags And Leads in Life Satisfaction: a Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(529), pages 222-243, June.
    5. Helliwell, John F. & Huang, Haifang, 2008. "How's Your Government? International Evidence Linking Good Government and Well-Being," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(4), pages 595-619, October.
    6. John Helliwell, 2007. "Well-Being and Social Capital: Does Suicide Pose a Puzzle?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 81(3), pages 455-496, May.
    7. Bernard M. S. van Praag & Barbara E. Baarsma, 2005. "Using Happiness Surveys to Value Intangibles: The Case of Airport Noise," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 224-246, January.
    8. John F. Helliwell & Haifang Huang, 2010. "How's the Job? Well-Being and Social Capital in the Workplace," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 63(2), pages 205-227, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • P52 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Studies of Particular Economies

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