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Money, Sociability and Happiness: Are Developed Countries Doomed to Social Erosion and Unhappiness?

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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. Inaugurated by Putnam’s pioneering studies, the debate on social capital trends has been recently revived by Stevenson and Wolfers ( 2008 ) contending Easterlin’s assessment. Present work is aimed at finding evidence for the relationship between changes in social capital and subjective well-being in western Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan between 1980 and 2005. In particular, I would like to answer questions such as: (1) is social capital in western Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan declining? Is such erosion a general trend of modern and richer societies or is it a characteristic feature of the American one? (2) can social capital trend help explain subjective well-being trend? Therefore, present research considers three different set of proxies of social capital controlling for time and socio-demographic aspects using WVS-EVS data between 1980 and 2005. Present results are encouraging, showing evidence of positive correlation between several proxies of social capital and both happiness and life satisfaction. Furthermore, results show that during last twenty-five years people in some of the most modern and developed countries have persistently lost confidence in the judicial system, religious institutions, parliament and civil service. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

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  • Francesco Sarracino, 2012. "Money, Sociability and Happiness: Are Developed Countries Doomed to Social Erosion and Unhappiness?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 109(2), pages 135-188, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:109:y:2012:i:2:p:135-188
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-011-9898-2
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    3. Piekalkiewicz, Marcin, 2016. "Money, Social Capital and Materialism. Evidence from Happiness Data," EconStor Preprints 130185, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
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    6. Sarracino, Francesco & O'Connor, Kelsey J., 2019. "Economic growth and well-being beyond the Easterlin paradox," MPRA Paper 96013, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Tatiana Karabchuk, 2016. "The subjective well-being of women in Europe: children, work and employment protection legislation," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 15(2), pages 219-245, November.
    8. Stefano Bartolini & Francesco Sarracino, 2017. "Twenty-Five Years of Materialism: Do the US and Europe Diverge?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 133(2), pages 787-817, September.
    9. Sarracino, Francesco & Mikucka, Malgorzata, 2015. "Social capital in Europe from 1990 to 2012: trends, path-dependency and convergence," MPRA Paper 63619, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. David Bartram, 2019. "Sociability among European Migrants," Sociological Research Online, , vol. 24(4), pages 557-574, December.
    11. Eiji Yamamura, 2017. "Identity, nostalgia and happiness among migrants: The case of the KÅ shien High School Baseball Tournament in Japan," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(5), pages 792-813, December.
    12. Francesco Sarracino & Małgorzata Mikucka, 2019. "Consume More, Work Longer, and Be Unhappy: Possible Social Roots of Economic Crisis?," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 14(1), pages 59-84, March.
    13. M. Hussain, 2014. "The Robustness of High Danish National Happiness: A Temporal Cross-Country Analysis of Population Subgroups," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 118(2), pages 759-774, September.
    14. Francesco Sarracino, 2014. "Richer in Money, Poorer in Relationships and Unhappy? Time Series Comparisons of Social Capital and Well-Being in Luxembourg," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 561-622, January.
    15. Stefano Bartolini, 2014. "Building sustainability through greater happiness," Department of Economics University of Siena 703, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    16. Stefano Bartolini & Marcin Piekalkiewicz & Francesco Sarracino, 2019. "A Social Cure for Social Comparisons," Department of Economics University of Siena 797, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Subjective well-being; Social capital; Relational goods; Easterlin paradox; Time-series; Economic development; EVS; WVS;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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