Life Satisfaction, Social Capital and the Bonding-Bridging Nexus
The paper investigates the relation between social capital and life satisfaction focusing on the distinction between bonding and bridging as introduced by Putnam (2000). Using the latest version of the combined World and European Values Surveys, we first address the question of measurement of social capital by means of a multi-step factor analysis. Through this procedure, we find that proxies typically used for social capital tend to polarize around two dimensions interpreted as bonding and bridging. These two dimensions are in fact associated with a single latent variable with opposite signs suggesting that they describe two sides of the same latent variable rather than two independent latent variables. We call this latent variable the locus of socializing and use it to explore the relation between social capital and life satisfaction across world citizens and across groups of similar countries. The results indicate that people with extreme bonding or bridging behavior are less happy than people with more balanced attitudes. Unlike the literature on social capital and economic growth that finds bridging attitudes more desirable than bonding attitudes, we find that bonding attitudes are at least as important as bridging attitudes for life satisfaction. This suggests that the social capital dimensions important for economic growth may not necessarily coincide with the social capital dimensions important for life satisfaction.
|Date of creation:||12 Dec 2011|
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