The relationship between social leisure and life satisfaction
Social leisure is generally found to be positively correlated with life satisfaction in the empirical literature. We ask if this association captures a genuine causal effect of this good on subjective wellbeing by using panel data from the GSOEP. Fixed effect estimation techniques take care of some but not all of the endogeneity issues involved: we then have recourse to instrumental variables estimation. Our identification strategy exploits the change in social leisure brought about by retirement: more specifically we instrument social leisure with the ratio of retired in the sample by year and geographic location (East vs West Germany). Our results show a gendered difference in the impact of this ratio on social life. Our final message is that social leisure has a positive causal effect on life satisfaction, a finding with potentially important policy implications.
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