Comparing the Happiness Effects of Real and On-line Friends
A recent large Canadian survey permits us to compare real-time and on-line social networks as sources of subjective well-being. The sample of 5,000 is drawn randomly from an on-line pool of respondents, a group well placed to have and value on-line friendships. We find three key results. First, the number of real-life friends is positively correlated with subjective well-being (SWB) even after controlling for income, demographic variables and personality differences. Doubling the number of friends in real life has an equivalent effect on well-being as a 50% increase in income. Second, the size of online networks is largely uncorrelated with subjective well-being. Third, we find that real-life friends are much more important for people who are single, divorced, separated or widowed than they are for people who are married or living with a partner. Findings from large international surveys (the European Social Surveys 2002-2008) are used to confirm the importance of real-life social networks to SWB; they also indicate a significantly smaller value of social networks to married or partnered couples.
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|Date of creation:||Jan 2013|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Comparing the Happiness Effects of Real and On-Line Friends John F. Helliwell , Haifang Huang PLOS Published: September 3, 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072754|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
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- Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004.
"How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, 07.
- Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
- Mariska Horst & Hilde Coffé, 2012. "How Friendship Network Characteristics Influence Subjective Well-Being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 107(3), pages 509-529, July.
- John F. Helliwell & Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh & Anthony Harris & Haifang Huang, 2009. "International Evidence on the Social Context of Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 14720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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