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Watching alone: Relational Goods, Television and Happiness


  • Luigino Bruni

    () (Department of Economics, University of Milan-Bicocca)

  • Luca Stanca

    () (Department of Economics, University of Milan-Bicocca)


This paper discusses the role of relational goods and television viewing for individual happiness. Using individual data from the World Values Survey, we find evidence of a positive effect of rela- tionality on life satisfaction, and a negative effect of television viewing on relational activities. Both relationships are strongly significant and robust to the use of alternative indicators of relationality. The results are also robust to estimation by instrumental variables to deal with possible simultaneity. We interpret these findings as an indication that the pervasive and increasing role of television viewing in contem- porary society, through its crowding out effect on relational activities, contributes to the explanation of the income-happiness paradox.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:90

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Neumark, David & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "Relative income concerns and the rise in married women's employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 157-183, October.
    2. Luigino Bruni, 2007. "The ‘Technology of Happiness’ and the Tradition of Economic Science," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Happiness, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Luigino Bruni & Luca Stanca, 2006. "Income Aspirations, Television and Happiness: Evidence from the World Values Survey," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(2), pages 209-225, May.
    4. Borcherding, Thomas E. & Filson, Darren, 2002. "Group consumption, free-riding, and informal reciprocity agreements," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 237-257, March.
    5. Stephan Meier & Alois Stutzer, 2008. "Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(297), pages 39-59, February.
    6. Corneo, Giacomo, 2005. "Work and television," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 99-113, March.
    7. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2014. "Economic Consequences of Mispredicting Utility," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 937-956, August.
    8. Frey, Bruno S. & Benesch, Christine & Stutzer, Alois, 2007. "Does watching TV make us happy?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 283-313, June.
    9. Veblen, Thorstein, 1899. "The Theory of the Leisure Class," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number veblen1899.
    10. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2006. "The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity and Altruism - Experimental Evidence and New Theories," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
    11. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
    12. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 11-26, Part II, .
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    More about this item


    subjective well-being; TV consumption; relationality;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being


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