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Social Capital and Individual Happiness in Europe

Author

Listed:
  • Andrés Rodriguez-Pose

    (Professor of Economic Geography, London School of Economics; Visiting Professor, Department of European Economic Studies, College of Europe (Bruges))

  • Viola von Berlepsch

    (London School of Economics)

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between social capital and happiness both in Europe as a whole, as well as in its four main geographical macro-regions – North, South, East and West – separately. We test the hypothesis of whether social capital, in its three-fold definition established by Coleman (1988) – trust, social interaction, and norms and sanctions – influences individual happiness across European countries and regions. The concept of social capital is further enriched by incorporating Putnam- (1993) and Olson- (1982) type variables on associational activity. Using ordinal logistic regression analysis on data for 48,583 individuals from 25 European countries, we reach three main findings. First, social capital matters for happiness across the three dimensions considered. Second, the main drivers of the effects of social capital on happiness appear to be informal social interaction and general social, as well as institutional trust. And third, there are significant differences in how social capital interacts with happiness across different areas of Europe, with the connection being at is weakest in the Nordic countries.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:coe:wpbeer:25
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    social capital; happiness; trust; social interaction; norms and effective sanctions; Europe;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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