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Does kindness lead to happiness? Voluntary activities and subjective well-being

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  • Magnani, Elisabetta
  • Zhu, Rong

Abstract

This paper investigates empirically the effects of voluntary activities on subjective well-being. After controlling for individual fixed effects, we show that volunteering significantly improves people’s subjective well-being. The positive well-being effects of volunteering are highly heterogeneous, with larger impact at the lower end of the distribution of subjective well-being. Our dynamic analysis shows that the beneficial effects of volunteering are transitory. We find evidence of complete subjective well-being adaptation one year after volunteering. We show that more frequent socialisation, increasing satisfaction with feeling part of local community and rising satisfaction with neighbourhood living in are three channels for the contemporaneous positive linkage between volunteering and subjective well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Magnani, Elisabetta & Zhu, Rong, 2018. "Does kindness lead to happiness? Voluntary activities and subjective well-being," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 20-28.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:77:y:2018:i:c:p:20-28
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2018.09.009
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Volunteering; Subjective well-being; Panel quantile regression with fixed effects;

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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