IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Money, sociability and happiness : are developed countries doomed to social erosion and unhappiness?

  • SARRACINO Francesco

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 eight European countries and in 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? In so doing, 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. My results are encouraging, showing evidence of positive correlation between several proxies of social capital and both happiness and life satisfaction. Furthermore, my 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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by LISER in its series LISER Working Paper Series with number 2011-02.

in new window

Length: 68 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:irs:cepswp:2011-02
Contact details of provider: Postal: 3, avenue de la Fonte, L-4364 Esch-sur-Alzette, G.-D. Luxembourg
Phone: 00352 / 58 58 55 - 1
Fax: 00352 / 58 58 55 - 700
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Frank, Robert H, 1997. "The Frame of Reference as a Public Good," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1832-47, November.
  2. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," NBER Working Papers 14282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Sarracino, Francesco, 2013. "Determinants of subjective well-being in high and low income countries: Do happiness equations differ across countries?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 51-66.
  4. Oswald, Andrew, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  5. Charles Kenny, 2005. "Does Development Make You Happy? Subjective Wellbeing And Economic Growth In Developing Countries," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 73(2), pages 199-219, 09.
  6. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 1999. "The macroeconomics of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-1999, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  7. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, 07.
  8. Luigino Bruni & Luca Stanca, 2005. "Watching alone: Relational Goods, Television and Happiness," Working Papers 90, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2005.
  9. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2006. "Some Uses of Happiness Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-46, Winter.
  10. Blanchflower, David G., 2008. "International Evidence on Well-being," IZA Discussion Papers 3354, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. John Helliwell, 2001. "Social Capital, the Economy and Well-being," The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress, in: Andrew Sharpe, Executive Director & France St-Hilaire, Vice-President , Research & Keith Banting, Di (ed.), The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress 2001: The Longest Decade: Canada in the 1990s, volume 1 Centre for the Study of Living Standards;The Institutute for Research on Public Policy.
  12. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," IEW - Working Papers 015, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  13. Ulrich Schimmack & Peter Krause & Gert Wagner & Jürgen Schupp, 2010. "Stability and Change of Well Being: An Experimentally Enhanced Latent State-Trait-Error Analysis," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 19-31, January.
  14. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
  15. Helliwell, John F., 2003. "How's life? Combining individual and national variables to explain subjective well-being," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 331-360, March.
  16. Sarracino, Francesco, 2010. "Social capital and subjective well-being trends: Comparing 11 western European countries," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 482-517, August.
  17. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  18. Leonardo Becchetti & Giovanni Trovato & David Andres Londono Bedoya, 2011. "Income, relational goods and happiness," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(3), pages 273-290.
  19. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini & Francesco Sarracino, 2011. "Predicting the Trend of Well-Being in Germany: How Much Do Comparisons, Adaptation and Sociability Matter?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 414, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  20. Alesina, Alberto F & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2877, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini & Francesco Sarracino, 2009. "Sociability Predicts Happiness: World-Wide Evidence from Time Series," Department of Economics University of Siena 579, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  22. John F. Helliwell, 2006. "Well-Being, Social Capital and Public Policy: What's New?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages C34-C45, 03.
  23. Knack, Stephen, 2003. " Groups, Growth and Trust: Cross-Country Evidence on the Olson and Putnam Hypotheses," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 117(3-4), pages 341-55, December.
  24. Sacks, Daniel W. & Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2010. "Subjective Well-Being, Income, Economic Development and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 8048, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  25. Kenny, Charles, 1999. "Does Growth Cause Happiness, or Does Happiness Cause Growth?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 3-25.
  26. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2003. "Understanding the American Decline in Social Capital, 1952--1998," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(1), pages 17-46, February.
  27. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
  28. Ed Diener & Eunkook Suh, 1997. "Measuring Quality Of Life: Economic, Social, And Subjective Indicators," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 189-216, January.
  29. Leann Schneider & Ulrich Schimmack, 2009. "Self-Informant Agreement in Well-Being Ratings: A Meta-Analysis," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 94(3), pages 363-376, December.
  30. Delhey, Jan & Newton, Kenneth, 2004. "Social trust: Global pattern or nordic exceptionalism?," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Inequality and Social Integration SP I 2004-202, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  31. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  32. repec:oup:qjecon:v:122:y:2007:i:3:p:969-1006 is not listed on IDEAS
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:irs:cepswp:2011-02. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Library and Documentation)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.